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VLADIMIR S. LITTAUER 


















HORSEMANSHIP 



SECOND EDITION 



AFTER years of experience with 
every school of horsemanship, 
Vladimir Littauer has developed a 
sane, safe and successful method of 
riding, fully described in this revised 
and up-to-date second edition. New il- 
lustrations and a completely new chap- 
ter on jumping and schooling have 
been added. 

Captain Littauer divides riders into 
three groups: the beginners and those 
who ride weekends for the fun of it; 
the intermediate group who hunt and 
ride in horse shows ; and the top group 
who wish to school horses and become 
truly expert horsemen, 

Most books on equitation fail to 
recognize the different requirements of 
these three divisions, and the weekend 
rider is led to attempt methods that are 
beyond his needs and abilities. The 
same is often true of the intermediate 
group, who have neither the time nor 
the need for advanced equitation. 

The author gives, step by step, the 
practical instructions that are required 
for good riding and sound horses in 

each group. For many years he has 
been teaching riding, and one of his 
pupils contributes two chapters which 
tell about his lessons and his reactions 

to them, as he learned Captain Lit- 
tauer's system of riding. These are 
very valuable chapters. 

There are chapters on how to teach 
each of the three classes of riders. 

(Continued on back flap) 




7 J9fl6 




3 1148 00599 6715 



798 L77c2 64-00200 

Littauer 

Common sense horsemanship 




'JAN ' 
DEC 24 1965 



p 



ff'B 3 



COMMON SENSE 
HORSEMANSHIP 



OTHER BOOKS BY THE AUTHOR 

TEN TALKS ON HORSEMANSHIP (in collaboration with Captain 
S. Kournakoff) 

JUMPING THE HORSE 

RIDING FORWARD 

published in England under the title THE FORWARD SEAT 
published in a dollar edition under the title MODERN 
HORSEMANSHIP FOR BEGINNERS 

THE DEFENSE OF THE FORWARD SEAT (in collaboration with 
Captain S. Kournakoff) 

MORE ABOUT RIDING FORWARD 

published in England under the title MORE ABOUT THE 
FORWARD SEAT 

BE A BETTER HORSEMAN 




The author with Barnaby Bright 



Bert Clark Thayvr 



COMMON SENSE 
HORSEMANSHIP 



By VLADIMIR S. LITTAUER - 

Formerly Captain, First Hussars, Russian Imperial Cavalry 



With two chapters by ALEXIS WRANGEL 



Sketches by BERRI CHAMOREL 



A distinct method of RIDING and SCHOOLING 
HORSES and of LEARNING TO RIDE 





SECOND EDITION 





D. VAN NOSTRAND COMPANY, INC. 

NEW YORK 
TORONTO LONDON 



EDITED AND DESIGNED BY EUGENE V. CONNETT 



PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 



COPYRIGHT 1951, 1963, BY 
D. VAN NOSTRAND COMPANY, INC. 

Published simultaneously in Canada by 
D. VAN NOSTRAND COMPANY (Canada), LTD. 



All Rights Reserved 

This book, or any part thereof, may not be 
reproduced in any -form without written per- 
mission from the author and the publisher. 



D. VAN NOSTRAND COMPANY, INC, 

120 Alexander St., Princeton, New Jersey (Principal office) 

24 West 40th Street, New York 18, New York 

D. VAN NOSTRAND COMPANY, LTD. 
558, Kensington High Street, London, W.I 4, England 

D. VAN NOSTRAND COMPANY (Canada), LTD, 
25 Hollinger Road, Toronto 16, Canada 



TO MY WIFE 
AS A MATTER OF EQUESTRIAN TACT 



Preface to the Revised Edition 



On the third page of this book, describing the advent of Forward 
Riding, I say ". . . in any transition period, misconceptions and con- 
fusion of ideas are natural. It will probably take another generation 
before all the new principles are assembled into a perfectly logical 
system . . . Consequently this book does not pretend to be the last 
word . . ." Thirteen years have passed since I wrote this and many changes 
in the riding world, and in my own thinking as well, have taken place 
in this interval. 

Since soon after the last war riding has been enjoying a progressive 
boom. Due to unprecedented general prosperity, people whose grand- 
fathers would never have dreamt of indulging in this sport have taken 
to it most enthusiastically, swelling the ranks of riders in every branch 
of equestrian activities. At the same time, the fact that the competitive 
spirit has become a major factor in riding has greatly increased the 
number of horse shows, raising the standards of performance and thus 
promoting equestrian education even for the average. 

The rapid switch to educated riding on a large scale could not pro- 
ceed logically; the movement was bound to be full of whims, fads and 
even of simple failures to understand what educated riding really is. 
In this complicated picture of today's various and often contradictory 
tendencies, two major trends are conspicuous. These are the progress 
of the Forward Riding, on the one hand, and on the other, the attempts 
of some horsemen to import the old-fashioned Dressage type of riding 
from Europe. The first represents a rather natural development of 
equestrian thinking, since the favorite equestrian sport of our youth 
today is jumping in one form or another. The other is an artificial 
transplanting to American soil of ideas which were originally developed 
very long ago and for different equestrian games, played by a different 
kind of society; but to some American horsemen they represent, even 
today, the acme of education which unquestionably they were once 
upon a time. 

Thus an educated, conscientious riding instructor, besides teaching 
his subject, has constantly to combat the influences of various tem- 
porarily popular trends in riding. These come and go, and those which 
were in the picture when this book was originally written have been 
replaced by others. This is one more reason for the revision of this book. 

Furthermore, thirteen extra years of active participation in teaching 
and schooling horses has naturally given me much new experience, on 
the basis of which I have developed some new practices. For instance, 



x PREFACE TO THE REVISED EDITION 

I have found that the Counter Gallop (counter canter) should be 
taught at a much earlier stage than I once did; that large circles at 
speed are, on the whole, more important than small ones at slow gaits; 
that Cavaletti may be very useful in teaching beginners the jumping 
position; that semi-collection (an item of the Advanced Level of riding) 
can in many cases be skipped without lowering the efficiency of the 
schooling of a hunter or a jumper; that a Sharp Turn at the Gallop 
should be added to my program, etc. 

Finally, as a result of conversations with my readers, and of rereading 
the book myself, I find that some of the major equestrian notions and 
terms are not clearly enough presented in the original edition; that some 
paragraphs, here and there, lack precision, and that just ordinary errors, 
my own as well as the printers', have crept in. 

Thus the revision consists of a fuller explanation of some equestrian 
ideas particularly important today; of the improvement of some tech- 
niques in conjunction with new developments in riding; little additions 
or subtractions in the text to make it clearer; and of the elimination 
of the errata of the original edition. With all these corrections, the 
present revised edition represents the progress of Forward Riding as 
well as the progress of my own thinking. 

Riding has always progressed through innovations based on the analy- 
sis of new experience. A famous High School rider of the 19th century, 
Francois Baucher, says in the 14th edition of his book Mtthode 
d f Equitation: "Each of the thirteen editions of the method is dis- 
tinguished by progress which makes the trainer's work easier." 

I hope my readers will feel the same way about this edition. 

In writing the various additions to this revised edition, I have used 
material from my more recent books, namely Schooling Your Horse 
(1956) and Horseman's Progress (1962) as well as from my articles which 
appeared from 1956 to 1960 in the magazine Horse, For permission to do 
so I wish to thank my publisher, D. Van Nostrand Co., Inc., and the 
editor of The Chronicle of the Horse, Alexander Mackay-Smith. 



Preface to the First Edition 



This book is a summing up of what I have learned while teaching 
riding. Twenty-four very active years of it, thousands of pupils and an 
astronomical number of hours spent watching riders and horses perform 
have taught me a great deal. Without this experience I could be a rider 
or an armchair theoretician, but I could not have conceived a practical 
method of riding. Every pupil, by his successful or futile efforts, by his 
wise or stupid questions, by his resistance to or acceptance of my teaching, 
has contributed to the writing of this book. 

But besides these anonymous thousands, my particular thanks go to 
numerous friends and pupils who kindly read the first drafts of some 
chapters and offered their criticism and suggestions. I wish to express my 
especial appreciation to Miss Harriet H. Rogers who devoted so much 
time and patience to my manuscript and gave me much valuable advice. 
I am also grateful to Mr. and Mrs. David H. Munroe, Miss Evelyn 
Droge and Mr. Clayton E. Bailey. 

For permission to quote the author's thanks are due to: 



The author 
Captain Piero Santini 

Roy Chapman Andrews 
Colonel Paul Rodzianko 

Col, Harry D. 
Chamberlin 

Com. Benoist-Gironi&re 
Dr. Gustav Rau 

E. Schmit-Jensen 

Major General Sir F. 
Smith 

James Fillis 



The book 

"The Forward Impulse" 
"The Rider and Driver" 

(a magazine) 
"Meet Your Ancestors" 
"Italian Cavalry School" 
"L'Eperon" (a magazine) 
"Training Hunters, 

Jumpers, and Hacks" 

"Concours Hippique" 

"Die Reiferkampfe bei 

den Olympischen 

Spielen" 
"Equestrian Olympic 

Games" 
"A Manual of Veterinary 

Physiology" 
"Official Individual 

Sports Guide" 
"Breaking and Riding" 



The publisher 
Huntington Press 



The Viking Press 



The Derrydale Press (in 
England Hurst & 
Blackett) 

Librarie des Champs- 
Elysees 

Schickhardt & Ebner 



Welbecson Press 

Bailliere, Tindall and 

Cox 
National Section on 

Women's Athletics 
Hurst and Blackett 



xii PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION 

For permission to reproduce photographs the author's thanks are due 
to: Mrs. Elizabeth Correll, Mr. Chester A. Braman, Dr. Walter T. Kees, 
Mr. George Hoblin, Mr. Fritz Stecken, American Museum of Natural 
History, and Mr. J. Hamilton Coulter (who took photographs of the 
author). 

All these names from many countries point toward the fact that while 
any knowledge is international, riding is not an exception. But, recog- 
nizing this, I still feel that the bulk of this book is definitely "Made in 
U.S.A." The following pages are the result of thinking amidst typical 
American experiences which required typical American methods of solv- 
ing c6nstantly arising problems. The fact that my equestrian education 
began in Russia doesn't make this book the less American; as a matter of 
fact it disassociates itself completely from the riding principles on which 
I was brought up. And the even more important factor that a great deal 
of my teaching is based on ideas first evolved by Federico Caprilli still 
leaves this book a product of the U.S.A., for the Italian beliefs of the 
beginning of our century are considerably altered here as a result of the 
progress of the times and on the basis of the needs of American amateur 
riders. 



Contents 



CHAPTER PAGE 

I. WHAT THIS BOOK Is ABOUT AND How TO USE IT 1 

II. IMAGINE You ARE A HORSE 13 

III. THE SEARCH FOR BALANCE 29 

IV. CRYSTALLIZING A METHOD 39 
V. TROUBLES WITH THE FORWARD SEAT 56 

VI. LEARNING THE FORWARD SEAT 74 

VII. BRINGING CONTROL DOWN TO EARTH AND FORWARD 99 

VIII. ELEMENTARY CONTROL 120 

IX. WHAT Is A GOOD PERFORMANCE OF THE HORSE 127 

X. WHY COLLECTED GAITS HAVE No PLACE IN FORWARD 

SCHOOLING 148 

XL LEARNING CONTROL ON THE INTERMEDIATE LEVEL 169 

XII. ADVANCED CONTROL 203 

XIII. MODERNIZING THE IDEAL 226 

XIV. ALMOST ANYONE CAN LEARN FORWARD SCHOOLING 242 
XV. THE PROGRAM OF FORWARD SCHOOLING 260 

XVI. How TO TEACH RIDING (GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS) 313 

XVII. How TO TEACH THE FORWARD SEAT 321 
XVIII. How TO TEACH CONTROL (INTERMEDIATE AND 

ADVANCED) 339 

XIX. How TO TEACH SCHOOLING 359 

INDEX 366 



CHAPTER I 

What This Book Is About 
and How to Use It 

A perfect book on riding could be written only by a horse. Only he 
could easily answer all the questions endlessly argued by us riders. Only a 
horse could say positively how the rider should sit in order to abuse him 
less; how his rider should control him so that the aids are easily under- 
stood, and how the trainer should school him so that the training proceeds 
in a comprehensible manner. As long as little pertaining to horses, and 
hence to riding, can be stated with mathematical precision, riders are 
bound to disagree. 

In my unoriginal opinion any technical book is worthwhile only if it 
has something constructive to say and, therefore, provides valid arguments 
against generally accepted theories and practices. Only such a book stimu- 
lates thinking and may contribute to progress. The above statement ob- 
viously indicates the trend of this book; its pages present some new ideas 
and many new arrangements of old principles, comparing the old with the 
new. Consequently this book is a two-fold argument against old-fash- 
ioned riding, on one hand, and against certain adaptions of modern ideas 
on the other. I am particularly averse to an incongruous mixing of the 
old and the new. 

I do not like the word "argument;" to some it may easily suggest a 
noisy squabble. I use the word because I don't know of a better one to 
designate a logical reason for substituting certain ideas for others. If I 
personally were still blindly adhering to what I was taught in my youth, 
my present thinking about riding would be on a par with the model T 
Ford. Progress depends on independent reasoning and dispute. In this 
respect the term "modern riding" may mislead some into thinking that 
it represents the final achievement. I use this term throughout the book 
merely to indicate the contemporary point of view; unquestionably it 
will be considered old-fashioned in a few generations; as a matter of fact 
it is changing all the time. 

The first problem which I faced when beginning to plan this book was 
whether to conceal the argument as much as possible by merely describing 
my present point of view without explaining how I had arrived at it, and 
without comparing it with other methods or, just the opposite, to em- 
phasize the evolution of my thinking. I chose the latter course; first, 
because the story of my riding life is typical of innumerable others, and. 



2 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

second, its motto "anything can be done better/' may influence those 
riders who tenaciously adhere to the old just because they never took 
time to think, or are ashamed to change. My riding life began by knowing 
nothing; it flourished for many years with little knowledge; then it went 
through a long period of following the teaching of recognized authorities, 
and finally it reached independent thought. Without the latter anything 
in life is stagnant and riding is no exception. But somehow it happens 
that theoretical thinking among riders is not often to be found. The re- 
luctance to think has always been the greatest obstacle that I encountered 
as a teacher, and my lessons were always constructed so as to stimulate 
thought. I purpose to do the same in this book. In order to do this I have 
had to describe how I personally began to doubt those who had been my 
gods. The technical arguments which you will find in this book will not 
help you to keep the heels down but they may enable you to understand 
Riding. 

Since riding in the course of centuries has been affected by geography, 
wars, social conditions, current tastes and so forth, it has taken different 
forms in different periods and countries and has been governed by differ- 
ent principles. For instance, in the 17th and 18th centuries European 
courtiers of the major continental kingdoms, living most of the time at 
court and adding prestige to the throne by all sorts of lavish spectacles, 
would naturally develop High School, particularly because its baroque 
movements were in the taste of the epoch. On the other hand, the average 
English aristocrat, spending most of his life on his estate and amusing 
himself with country pleasures, would use his saddle horses for hacking 
and hunting and would develop an informal type of riding. The Napo- 
leonic wars, which required constant replacements for the huge French 
cavalry, replacements which had to be produced over-night, led to discard- 
ing the sophisticated teaching of the Versailles school and the invention 
of a very simple method of riding on loose reins. Le comte d'Aure in his 
TRAiii D'EQUITATION (3rd ed. published in 1847) says: "it is with this, 
so unscientific riding that our armies made the tour of Europe/' The wide- 
spread antiquarianism of the second half of the 19th century, so pro- 
nounced in the arts, was also dominant in riding. On the continent there 
was a return to the pre-Napoleonic times and to the manfege type of rid- 
ing, sometimes for even cross-country. Today, in our part of the world, 
riding has ceased to be a necessity; it has remained only as a sport, and if 
you consider the general tempo of our times it becomes evident that only 
a fast and hazardous type of riding could attract youth. Streamlined 
trains, jet planes, even the speed of the ordinary automobile are bound 
to change our tastes in this direction. And so a sort of revolution in 
theories of riding was bound to take place, affecting primarily hunting 
and jumping the two most admired forms of riding today. Add to this 
the modern search for efficiency in all our activities, combined with no 



WHAT THIS BOOK IS ABOUT AND HOW TO USE IT 3 

time for details, and you will have the direction which these new ideas 
would be bound to take. 

This revolution began fifty years ago, had a very slow start for twenty- 
five years and is in full bloom today. In any transition period, miscon- 
ceptions and confusion of ideas are natural. It will probably take another 
generation before all the new principles are assembled into a perfectly 
logical system. Until then there will be, and should be, arguments. Con- 
sequently this book does not pretend to be the last word; it merely makes 
an attempt to give a better arrangement of modern principles. 

In the course of this book I often talk about "my method." It sounds 
too grand for what it actually is, for I am not the man who invented 
houses but merely an architect who plans them for modern living. Not 
the fundamental ideas of horsemanship, but their practical adjustment 
to the popular types of contemporary riding constitutes the original part 
of this book. The assembly of a multitude of details into a logical system 
of riding, schooling horses, and teaching riding gives me, I feel, the right 
to call it my method. 

My method of riding, schooling horses and teaching was born out of 
actual experiences such as the following: recently I was invited to teach 
for a few days in a hunt club; in this case all my pupils had enjoyed hunt- 
ing for many years, some for over twenty, two for almost fifty. Obviously 
anyone with a system of riding which was a sort of "short-cut to horse- 
manship" or "fun in the saddle" would be out of place there, for everyone 
in this particular group already knew much more than that. On the other 
hand an abstract representation of the art of riding as professed and 
described by many great horsemen would be as out of place. It would have 
been of no interest to this particular group they merely wished to hunt 
better; after all when in the field they had neither time nor use for the 
little technicalities which fascinate an equestrian artist. Obviously I was 
expected to give suggestions which would better the actual performance 
of their horses and would add to the riders' safety and pleasure, but 
would not require months of tedious work; no one had time for that. 
This work on technical details may help one win an international com- 
petition, under the rules which govern it, but only in exceptional cases 
can it help one to hunt or jump better. 

I by no means expect everyone to agree with my method. On the con- 
trary I anticipate some adverse criticisms which will differ with different 
types of riders. Among these will unquestionably be some valid ones, for 
no method is ever perfect in its first edition. These sound points of dis- 
agreement are ones that I could not foresee; otherwise I would have fur- 
ther corrected the details of my method. But there will be many others 
based on tradition, habit, ignorance, fear of the new, lack of logic, and 
on exceptional individual cases, With some of these arguments I am 
already familiar and I shall mention them in describing, point by point, 



COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 
TABLE I 

BASIC REQUIREMENTS FOR A GOOD PERFORMANCE 




ABLE PHYSICALLY 



CLEVER EMOTIONALLY GOOD CON -1 QUICK SYMPATHY EMOTIONALLY STRONG , AGILE 



FORMATION \ REFLEXES FOR THE STABLE 



GOOD 
HEALTH; 



HORSE 



ABILITY 
TO EXPLAIN 
A LESSON 
TO THE 
HORSE 




BODY - GOOD SEAT 



ABILITY QUIET, PATIENT, EFFICIENT USE 

TO LEARN BOLD OF AIDS- GOOD 

HORSE'S CONTROL 

LANGUAGE 



(SCHOOLING) 



ABILITY TO CONTROL 
A GREEN, 

AWKWARD AT TIMES 
RESISTING HORSE 
EFFICIENTLY, 
HELPS SCHOOLING 



RESPONSE TO 
AIDS 



BALANCE, AGILITY , ENDURANCE , EFFICIENT GAITS 
v ETC./ 



TRAINED 
BODY 




THE HORSE AND THE RIDER AT THEIR BEST 
DURING THE PERFORMANCE 



THE TOTAL OF ALL THE ABOVE ELEMENTS 

RESULTS IN 
A GOOD PERFORMANCE 



WHAT THIS BOOK IS ABOUT AND HOW TO USE IT 5 

the principal ideas of this book. The main elements of my method are as 
follows: 

1) A simple and nonchalantly dropped statement, "this was a good per- 
formance/' if analyzed reveals that the good performance is a complicated 
combination of many items, as Table I shows. This book is really nothing 
more than a detailed description of this chart. Some types of riding may 
require the presence of all the elements specified in the chart in large 
doses, while others, such as hacking, for instance, will call for these ele- 
ments in very small quantities. But no matter whether a certain type of 
riding calls for a simple or for a sophisticated performance, it can be 
good only if all the elements mentioned in this chart are happily com- 
bined. 

This chart merely tells facts, and there cannot be any real argument 
against its content aside from personal disagreements with insignificant 
details of it. 

2) In the chapter BRINGING CONTROL DOWN TO EARTH AND 
FORWARD one will find knowledge of riding divided into three grades, 
with an explanation of the amount of knowledge required in order to 
hack, or to hunt, or to show or to school horses. In other words, this book 
approaches riding from an expedient angle. Hence, instead of making 
such positive statements as "the horse must be on the bit," or "the rider 
must sit during the last two strides during the approach to an obstacle," 
this book asks the reader to analyze himself and his horse, to decide how 
well he wishes to ride and how hard he is willing to work while learning, 
and then to choose the suitable technique. This technique may or may 
not require the horse being on the bit (which by the way is hard to do 
well) but it must fit the selected game. 

Far from all of us, or all of our horses, possess the essentials to become 
great, and futile attempts to imitate outstanding riders, and to school 
average horses the way the best are trained, orily succeed in making 
frustrated riders and unhappy animals. On the other hand, everyone who 
knows his own and his horse's limitations and chooses a suitable form of 
riding and suitable manner of participating in it, may derive much 
pleasure from it. 

Some will say that a full knowledge of riding is necessary in order to 
participate well in any mounted game. I do not share this theoretical point 
of view which is constantly refuted by daily practice. After all, many 
hunt well or win ribbons with only a rather elementary knowledge of 
riding. 

3) All those who have read my previous books, or who have taken 
lessons from me, know that I teach Forward Riding. In this respect my 
method, like any rational system of riding, is based on the understanding 
that the principles of the seat, of control and of schooling must present a 
harmonious whole. The unity of these three elements of Forward Riding 
is the keynote of this book. I am particularly opposed to the often- 



6 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

encountered cases where a modern seat is awkwardly combined with 
the old-fashioned conceptions of how the horse should perform; some 
people talk in one breath about the Forward Seat and collected gaits. I 
believe that a hunter or a jumper performs at his best when kept keen 
but relaxed, both mentally and physically, and when allowed to move in 
a way which is natural to a quiet horse (extended attitude, long, flat 
strides). This belief is the cornerstone of this book. 

Here I expect a great deal of talk and shouting, both about the 
Forward Seat and about the principles of Forward Riding. 

The situation with the Forward Seat is a very peculiar one. Almost 
everyone in jumping competitions employs it well or badly and it even 
has penetrated quite far into hunting circles; but many who practice it 
argue against it. I explain the purely psychological reasons for this in 
the book. 

There will be violent arguments as to the principles of a "free-going" 
horse (of which the Forward Seat is a part) as opposed to a stiff, gathered 
horse, constantly dominated by the rider's legs and hands, from all those 
who have read many 19th century books and who, consciously or uncon- 
sciously, ride on the principles of simplified High School. These, to be 
persuaded, have not only to read this book but to study it, and to practice 
its principles for half a year or so. This is a big argument, this is the 
argument of the 20th century, and it cannot be solved in an armchair; un- 
fortunately some will try to. 

As to the unity of seat, control and schooling, I doubt if anyone will 
say a word against it, and I am afraid that the majority won't pay much 
attention to it unless the attitude of riders has been changing while I 
am writing these lines. A lack of appreciation of this unity is most un- 
fortunate, for in it are concealed most of the secrets of a good perform- 
ance. 

4) Forward Control, as it is described in these pages, has for its prin- 
cipal aim the obtaining of an efficient performance from the horse without 
any gingerbread of unnecessary details. Its second aim is to obtain this 
in the simplest possible way. 

Only outstanding riders can forcibly put the horse into a certain 
attitude and better his performance by doing so. Ninety-nine per cent of 
amateur riders, for whom this book is written, cannot do it, and if they 
were to attempt to do it they would merely upset and stiffen the horse, 
thus ruining all chances of a good performance. The less one asks of 
the horse, the less resistance one encounters, and the gradual raising of 
requirements must parallel the progress of the rider. Therefore, for 
instance, my method suggests that all beginners, if properly mounted, 
should ride mostly on loose reins; intermediate riders on soft, mostly 
passive contact and that only advanced riders be permitted the luxury 
of having the horse on the bit. 

Since I personally have witnessed lessons during which the instructor 



WHAT THIS BOOK IS ABOUT AND HOW TO USE IT 7 

was talking about having the horse on the bit while still working on the 
position of his pupil, I know that my method will find opposition, at least 
among those who lack the logic of gradual progress. As a matter of fact, 
several times in the course of years riders have argued against my method, 
demonstrating their reasons on their own horses which were so upset and 
stiff that even a decent performance was out of the question, The fact that 
some of these riders didn't even realize this, naturally made the discussion 
very difficult. This may sound like a catty remark but it happens to be 
true. 

5) Any rational method of schooling consists primarily in the physical 
development of the horse; a part of any method of schooling is teaching 
the horse the meaning of the aids. They are taught by a combination 
of human ingenuity, reward and punishment. Some methods emphasize 
discipline and the forceful dexterity of the rider's legs and hands; other 
systems aim at establishing cooperation on the part of the horse and try 
to turn strong aids into mild signals. I believe that schooling and riding 
on the principle of signals and cooperation are much more within the 
abilities of the average rider than are any forcible means. As a matter 
of fact the other extreme, the highly finished Olympic Dressage per- 
formance, largely depends on cooperation, and is possible only if the horse 
consciously responds to mere signals of the rider's legs and hands. 

I expect that riders with an old-fashioned education, which was based 
on constant leading the horse between the legs and hands, and who 
themselves have never reached a high degree of perfection, will argue 
against my method, saying that by such mild means one cannot teach 
a horse to perform well. The riders who belong to the German school 
will particularly object, I fully sympathize with these critics, for they 
preach what I was taught in my youth and what I believed for many 
years of my riding life; about this in more detail later. 

6) Green horses react surprisingly alike to schooling; hence it is 
possible to systematize schooling and present it in the form of a program 
which will fit 75% of horses; it will have to be altered variously to suit 
the remaining 25% of individual cases. There is nothing new about this; 
all great masters used definite methods in schooling, and it is how school- 
ing is described in many books. In this book I am merely presenting a 
logical method of schooling which will make efficient hacks, hunters and 
jumpers, and which is so simple that almost any rider can learn to use it 
successfully. There are people who derive pleasure from complicating any 
subject they tackle; others like to simplify life. This book, in general, is 
an expression of the latter tendency. 

Since schooling, as educated riding understands it, is seldom encoun- 
tered in this country, I don't very well see how people who have no 
experience in this art can criticize my schooling program; but they will 
and their argument will be a sweeping one: "This is all unnecessary; 
look at us; we don't practice any of this sort of business but our horses 



8 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

hunt and jump well." Self-satisfaction, of course, has stopped progress 
many times before in many fields of human endeavor. 

There is also a small group of serious riders, scattered from coast to 
coast, who school their horses, but they learned long ago and hence prac- 
tice it in an old-fashioned manner. These riders will be naturally upset 
that I relegate collection to a secondary place; that I suggest that a good 
part of riding be done on loose reins, etc. Seldom, if ever, do they con- 
sider in their learned discussions the practical situation in which Ameri- 
can riding finds itself. To this group should be added today (in 1962) a 
number of riders who make use of dressage in their schooling because 
of the vogue for it. 

7) The riding and schooling which I teach make a strong point out 
of the happiness of the horse. I personally don't derive any pleasure out of 
riding if I know that my horse is not cheerful. A frequently recurring 
subject of this book is the horse's character and mentality, and how to 
approach it. On the purely practical side of the question 1 believe that 
learning the horse's language, and trying to obtain his cooperation, is a 
much shorter road to success than mere dependence on a strong seat and 
dexterity of the hands and legs by which "the brute is conquered/' I 
really dislike the term "breaking." 

I doubt very much if anyone would argue against humane handling of 
the horse, but I know from experience that there is tremendous confusion 
of minds on such subjects as cruelty, abuse and punishment. Hence 
many pages of this book are devoted to a discussion of these things. 

8) Our present standards of civilian riding, although improved during 
the last twenty-five years, are still rather low. Years ago I was invited to 
participate in judging a group of candidates for our civilian Olympic 
team for the 1952 Games. When one looked at these candidates, our best 
young men and girls, not from the point of view of the American horse 
show but from that of an international competition, it was discouraging 
to realize that probably only four out of thirty odd candidates were 
already started on the road they would continue in their training for the 
Olympics; all the others would have to begin from scratch. This book, in 
its aim to raise existing standards, strongly stresses the necessity of an 
ideal. It seems to me that a modified form of the Three-Day-Event of the 
Games could represent such a practical goal; it could be attained by 
anyone who would study riding sensibly and work conscientiously* 

I doubt whether this ideal itself will arouse many objections, especially 
now when the riding world seems to be intensely interested in the next 
Games. But my suggestions to modernize the ideal by taking out of the 
program most of the collected gaits and replacing them with the ordinary 
ones will, of course, be condemned by old-fashioned riders. 

9) In order to stimulate thinking, many parts of this book are devoted 
to what can be called the philosophy of horsemanship, without which I 
do not believe riding can be really good. On the other hand, no text book 
on riding is complete without such common-place explanations as why 



WHAT THIS BOOK IS ABOUT AND HOW TO USE IT 9 

the heels should be kept down or how to halt a horse. This book contains 
all this elementary knowledge, but it is partially presented from the point 
of view of a student. A pupil of mine, Alexis P. Wrangel, has written 
chapters on position and intermediate control; in these he puts in this 
type what I tell him to do, and in Italic type his own account of the 
difficulties he encountered while learning some point, and how it felt 
when he had achieved it. I hope that such a type of presentation may be of 
help to the majority. 

I doubt whether many will object to this form and I also believe that 
any thinking person, who is accustomed to reading in general, will wel- 
come the simple philosophical paragraphs in this book which will help 
him to understand the essence of Riding. 

10) Quite a few pages of this book are devoted to a description of the 
background of American riding life in the second quarter of the 20th 
century. I have done this because my surroundings have greatly influenced 
my work, my thinking and the creation of my method. Furthermore, 
without being familiarized with it, many points of this book would be 
incomprehensible to the reader. For instance, if one were not made aware 
of the widespread, often unconscious, abuse of horses, then my constant 
talk about sympathetic treatment of them might seem unnecessary. 

All the lines on the subject of the background of my teaching life are 
written without any personal feelings; they were not meant to hurt any- 
one and I have done my very best to be absolutely impartial, and to pre- 
sent things as they actually are. 

11) Average young human beings react to learning as uniformly as 
horses react to schooling; hence teaching and learning riding can proceed 
along the lines of a rather definite program which takes pupils from 
lesson to lesson. I don't know of any book which has offered such a com- 
plete program. I myself and several of my pupils, also riding teachers, 
started this pioneering work several years ago. We published a few articles 
on the subject and the last four chapters of this book represent the con- 
tinuation of this work. These chapters are meant not only for professional 
teachers but also for the innumerable private individuals who attempt to 
teach members of their family or friends. A person who is endeavoring to 
learn riding by himself will find part of the material in these chapters a 
helpful guide. 

Here I expect a great many arguments. Many professionals will be 
reluctant to admit that my method is good, merely because such an admis- 
sion would mean that theirs is not. Personal feelings, or simply business 
considerations, will prevent many from acclaiming anything that is not 
their own. But I know from experience that young riding teachers who 
are not yet set in their ways, and particularly those who are not in business 
but in physical education, accept my method of teaching most enthusiasti- 
cally and apply it with success. 

Besides these two categories of teachers there will be a third one which 



10 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

will resent my method merely because its procedure is new and unfamiliar 
to them. I would like to suggest to them to give it a try before criticizing 
it. Teaching position, for instance, doesn't take long and in a couple 
of weeks they could see for themselves how well my method works. 

The above eleven points represent the general plan of the book, while 
its main subject, as I have already pointed out, is Forward Riding. I know 
that while all my pupils easily grasp the idea of the Forward Seat, the 
theory of Forward Control and Forward Schooling, and the unity of these 
three parts of Forward Riding, require much repetition before they sink 
in. Hence, before I close this chapter I would like to speak about it once 
more in different words. 

A cross-country horse and a jumper perform at their best if schooled 
and ridden in such a way that they go up and down hill and over obsta- 
cles in the same manner in which they would move if free (unmounted) 
and quiet. If free and quiet, horses move with long, flat strides (at all 
gaits), holding themselves in an extended attitude. Consequently, their 
constantly fluid balance is on the average a "forward balance/' because 
the centre of gravity of the horse is (on the average) not over the centre 
of his body but over the area immediately behind the withers. 

If the horse has been schooled to move under the rider in this natural 
way, and is controlled in such a way that the results of schooling are pre- 
served, then in order to be united with the horse the rider must use the 
Forward Seat which puts his centre of gravity over the area immediately 
behind the horse's withers. Good performance in cross-country riding and 
jumping depends on this unity of the Forward Seat, Forward Control 
and Forward Schooling. 

The better the horse is schooled, the less forceful control is necessary. 
The aids become mere signals, and discipline is replaced with coopera- 
tion. It is not difficult to arrive at this level, providing that the method 
of schooling is stripped of movements which are not essential and which 
easily upset the horse and hence provoke resistance, for instance collec- 
tion on a full bridle. 

Schooling is primarily a physical education o the horse. This educa- 
tion must have a practical aim, as an example to make a hunter. Once 
the aim is clearly established, then only those exercises which may con- 
tribute something toward achieving it should be practiced. All schooling 
exercises are merely gymnastics and it is absolutely unnecessary to aim 
at obtaining perfection in every individual movement. Approached from 
this expedient point of view the art of riding and schooling horses is 
much simpler than all sorts of simplifications and adaptations of the old 
principles of "man&ge riding;" the latter can never be perfectly united 
with galloping and jumping. On the other hand, Forward Riding has been 
created for fast riding over varied terrain dotted with obstacles. 



WHAT THIS BOOK IS ABOUT AND HOW TO USE IT II 

The amount of information in this book can hardly be digested all at 
once; it would therefore be a mistake to attempt to read it in one gulp 
from cover to cover. However, skimming through it may be a good way to 
get a feeling of the spirit of my method. After this preliminary introduc- 
tion to it I would suggest the following use of the book: 

// you are a beginner, read and study chapters: 

IMAGINE YOU ARE A HORSE 
LEARNING THE FORWARD SEAT 
ELEMENTARY CONTROL 

HOW TO TEACH THE FORWARD SEAT AND ELEMENTARY 
CONTROL 

and if you intend to be more than a superficial student read chapters: 

THE SEARCH FOR BALANCE 
TROUBLES WITH THE FORWARD SEAT 

// you are a rider with considerable experience and your seat requires 
no correction, and you wish to begin to hunt and show, then you will find 
particularly useful chapters: 

IMAGINE YOU ARE A HORSE 
THE SEARCH FOR BALANCE 
CRYSTALLIZING A METHOD 

BRINGING CONTROL DOWN TO EARTH AND FORWARD 
LEARNING CONTROL ON THE INTERMEDIATE LEVEL 
MODERNIZING THE IDEAL 

HOW TO TEACH INTERMEDIATE AND ADVANCED 
CONTROL 

and if your horse needs bettering in his performance you will be interested 
in some parts of chapters: 

WHAT IS A GOOD PERFORMANCE OF THE HORSE? 
ALMOST ANYONE CAN LEARN FORWARD SCHOOLING 
THE PROGRAM OF FORWARD SCHOOLING 

If you wish to learn to school hunters and jumpers, give particular at- 
tention to chapters: 

IMAGINE YOU ARE A HORSE 

THE SEARCH FOR BALANCE 

BRINGING CONTROL DOWN TO EARTH AND FORWARD 

WHY COLLECTED GAITS HAVE NO PLACE IN FORWARD 

SCHOOLING 
LEARNING CONTROL ON THE INTERMEDIATE LEVEL 



12 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

MODERNIZING THE IDEAL 

WHAT IS A GOOD PERFORMANCE OF THE HORSE? 

ADVANCED CONTROL 

ALMOST ANYONE CAN LEARN FORWARD SCHOOLING 

THE PROGRAM OF FORWARD SCHOOLING 

HOW TO TEACH SCHOOLING 

But if you belong to this category of riders, it would be better if you 
would read the whole book. 

// you are a riding teacher you will have to study this book from cover 
to cover, and 

if you are a riding enthusiast, beginner or advanced, you probably will 
do so without my suggesting it. 



CHAPTER II 

Imagine Ton Are a Horse 

The experience of my thirty odd years of teaching brought me to the 
conclusion that the major difficulties in making horsemen (not merely 
riders) lie not in physical but in mental obstacles. It is rather easy to teach 
someone to hold his legs in this or that position, or to remain with the 
horse on the jump; but, at this same time, it is hard to make him think 
about riding in an honest, profound way which would assemble the dis- 
connected pieces of acquired knowledge into a rounded whole. This re- 
luctance to think in riding is often combined with all sorts of traditional 
notions which one has accepted emotionally. So many of us believe grand- 
mother's statement that Beauty adored her a kind of wishful thinking 
which has been conveniently turned into "my horse loves to jump in 
horse shows." Our grandparents were sentimental, so they bestowed senti- 
mental feelings upon their animals; we are highly competitive, so we 
bestow competitive ones. This sort of wishful thinking, which usually 
is based on an unconscious desire to justify one's behavior, knows no limit. 
I once met a man who maintained that a fox loves to be chased. Rational- 
izing our behavior is a natural thing for all of us to do. 

Further confusion is often added by the natural human nostalgia for 
the good times one has had; and those which occurred in the saddle one 
does not forget easily, no matter how bad the actual riding was or how 
much the horse suffered. As a matter of fact, very few of my old friends, 
former Russian cavalrymen, share my relief that horse cavalry has been 
replaced by a motorized one. Yet with so many of them I went through 
the whole of the first World War and at least a part of the Russian Civil 
War, and we saw the same sufferings and agonies of animals involved in 
the human struggle which was not theirs at all. The great number of argu- 
ments in this country in favor of preserving a mounted cavalry would seem 
to indicate that nostalgic feelings are to be found everywhere. It seems 
to me that any real lover of animals should welcome the fact that the 
machine has reached a stage of perfection where it can replace the horse 
in battle, thus eliminating one form of great cruelty to animals. For our 
romanticizing of ourselves on his back the horse has continuously suffered. 

Like practically everyone who has begun to ride in childhood, I had a 
great love of horses, liked to feed them carrots, to talk baby-talk to them, 
and 1 invented all sorts of pretexts to spend hours in the stable. At the 
same time, I was never bothered by the question of how the horse felt 
about being ridden, or, when not ridden, being locked up in a prison 

13 



14 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

cell. It took years before I became conscious of the fact that the horse 
could not possibly share the pleasures of the rider. But once I had arrived 
at this conclusion I could enjoy riding only when I was certain that I was 
not abusing my mount beyond the unavoidable minimum. I shall prob- 
ably use the word abuse quite often in this book, so I think I should ex- 
plain what I mean by it. I shall not discuss the obvious cruelties which are 
within the scope of the S.P.C.A., such as underfeeding the horse, overwork- 
ing him for commercial purposes, stabling him in unsanitary conditions, 
depriving him of veterinary care when he needs it, beating him causelessly, 
etc. A child can see that these are cruelties. But there are other less con- 
spicuous abuses which take place in well-built and well-kept stables where 
feed is plentiful, where the doctor is on call, and the hooves are well-oiled. 
Really to appreciate this second category of abuses you have to imagine for 
a moment that you are a horse. 

If you possess the imaginative power for such a metamorphosis then, 
becoming a horse, you will suddenly feel yourself very large, shy, stupid 
by comparison with your former human mentality, easily upset when be- 
wildered, endowed with an excellent memory, almost completely inarticu- 
late and with a much stronger herd instinct than you possessed in your 
human form. In the course of the thousands of years that your ancestors 
have served man, a spirit of cooperation has been bred in you. Some of 
your forebears revolted but they were rarely given a chance to multiply; 
thus through selective breeding you were turned into a rather consistently 
docile animal. And today, with your limited mentality, you would never 
be able to explain why you, so big and strong, don't kill the man who 
tries to mount you. And, of course, you never can understand why the 
man mounts you, trots you for a couple of miles, then suddenly orders 
you to gallop for another mile and then makes you go over half a dozen 
obstacles, or forces you to execute all sorts of movements in. strange 
combinations. 

Your natural pleasures are all associated with being free, in company 
with other horses, in fields where grass is green, where one can find cool 
water, shady trees and plenty of room to play if one desires. I you should 
not be given these, being of a docile character you quietly suffer imprison- 
ment in your cell while munching oats and hay. After being locked up 
for the greater part of twenty-four hours, you are ready to enjoy going 
out, even carrying a burden; if you feel fresh, then a stimulating gallop 
under the rider may be better than no gallop at all. But why the rider 
makes you gallop and jump when he does, sometimes when you feel sleepy 
or lazy, is incomprehensible to you, and it is also hard to understand why, 
at other times, he holds you back when you wish to go on. When you gal- 
lop and jump in the hunting field, with other horses galloping and jump- 
ing to right and left, the excitement of the herd carries you on, but when, 
from your point of view, for no reason at all, you are made to jump alone 



IMAGINE YOU ARE A HORSE 15 

in an enclosure surrounded by automobiles and people, then it is just 
forced labor. However, having in you a long established tradition of sub- 
missiveness and cooperation, you normally obey your rider's orders, and 
because of your good memory you even learn to know what he means by 
a certain application of his legs and hands. As long as to obey is in your 
nature you feel pleased when your good behavior is rewarded by a lump 
of sugar or something else as tasty. But, naturally, plain loafing is to you 
the ideal. 

Some riders sit on you in such a way that it is easy for you to carry 
them, while others feel heavy on your back, although perhaps light them- 
selves and, in a couple of hours, if not sooner, you feel a pain in your back 
and sometimes an aching in the kidneys. It is particularly hard to jump 
under such riders, for just at the moment when you are making your 
supreme effort to negotiate the obstacle your master suddenly plumps 
down on your back and gives you a jab in the mouth. To avoid this jab 
you try to jump with your head up, but this would cave in your back and 
bring your whole body into a stiff, unnatural position and the landing 
then would be painful to your feet. You begin to refuse, while some of 
your friends, having a different nature, upset by the sight of a fence which 
their memory connects with inevitable pain, begin rushing. But even 
when jumping under good riders who feel easy on your back and give you 
freedom to jump as it is natural for you to jump, you never learn to like 
jumping; jumping just isn't in your blood. Your ancestors lived and de- 
veloped your present body on prairies where there was nothing to jump 
but an occasional stream which could always be more easily forded. This 
is why you, who can easily jump a four-foot fence under the rider, can 
be confined in a pasture inclosed by fences no higher; only a few of your 
friends jump willingly of their own accord. 

It is easy for you to understand the signals of some riders and difficult 
to understand those of others. The latter are never clear enough, neither 
with their legs nor their hands. The succession of their orders is too quick; 
the succession of changes- of movements they require from you too erratic. 
It is upsetting to you and, becoming nervous, you start to jog and fret 
and pull without any sense or reason; you become very apprehensive 
about being mounted by such people. 

I hope I have started you thinking about riding from the horse's point 
of view. So let us end the transformation and talk again like human 
beings. There are several points that you, as a rider,, should consider and 
they are: 

1) An understanding of the horse's character and his mentality helps 
to keep the horse calm. A calm horse is a relaxed horse, and a horse can 
perform at his best only when his body is alert but not tense. 

2) The quality of the horse's performance can be considerably bettered 
by the rider distributing his weight in the saddle in such a way that it in- 



16 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

terferes as little as possible with the efforts of the horse's body. I hope to 
persuade you, in the course o this book, that the Forward Seat is the 
seat best qualified to do this. 

3) Control, although definite and efficient, should not upset the horse 
either mentally or physically. Later in this book you will find many argu- 
ments for Forward Control which, in my opinion, since it abuses the horse 
less than many other forms of control, is able to raise his standard of 
performance. 

4) A green horse has neither balance, strength nor agility to perform 
well under the rider. If left to his own devices he will eventually get the 
knack of how to carry the rider; but the performance of such a self-made 
horse can satisfy only a very elementary taste. On the other hand, riding 
a horse unprepared, both mentally and physically, for the work asked of 
him, can easily turn him into a bad actor or cripple him forever. The only 
way not to be cruel to your colt is to school him; in other words put him 
through a course in physical education, before requiring him to work for 
you. Forward Schooling does not call for a highly specialized rider; any- 
one with a good equestrian education and something like a year and a 
half s experience in the saddle can do it, or at least can begin to learn how 
to do it. 

I would like to elaborate a little more on these points. The first associa- 
tion of man and horse was that of flesh-eater and his prey. Roy Chapman 
Andrews in his book MEET YOUR ANCESTORS (page 178), The Viking Press, 
says: "The Solutreans, cousins of typical Cro-Magnons, had a vast plains 
camp at Solutre, Lyons, France, which they probably occupied during the 
summer. They were great lovers of horse meat, and the remains of one 
hundred thousand horses together with thirty-five thousand flint imple- 
ments were discovered at this place alone. There is no evidence, however, 
to show that they had domesticated the horse. That discovery probably 
was made later in the Far East and not in Europe." This was about 20,000 
years ago. I have read somewhere, I unfortunately cannot now remember 
where, that later man domesticated the horse to the point where it could 
be herded like cattle but was still used exclusively for food. In many 
countries the horse is still eaten and in my youth, in Russia, in its south- 
eastern prairies there were semi-nomadic Mongolian tribes living off the 
milk and flesh of the horse; I was brought up on the idea that mare's milk 
(kumis) is the best cure for T.B. The burden-bearing period of the horse's 
association with man is much briefer than the meat-eating period, and I 
suppose this is one of the reasons that we still need the S.P.C.A. 

I have a book by Cesare Fiaschi, who, in the first quarter of the 16th 
century, founded the riding school in Ferrara, Italy. Forty pages of 
it are devoted to illustrations of different bits, each one of which could 
easily be an instrument of torture. By comparison the sharpest curb bit 



IMAGINE YOU ARE A HORSE 17 

of today is a child's toy. Obviously those of us who ride on a snaffle, and 
comfortably retire horses when they are through with their services in- 
stead of eating them, have gone a long way in the course of the last 20,- 
000 years. 

Probably the first steps in domesticating, and particularly in mounting 
the horse, were not easy. The man who first tried to vault onto the back 
of a half-wild animal took his life in his hands; and for many generations 
it must have continued to require strong muscles and strong nerves. It 
was a conquest of the beast. But those days belong to prehistory; the 
character of the horse has changed and men have learned how to break 
him without struggle. A quiet, humane training of colts has been practiced 
by civilized riders for scores of years but, in spite of all the knowledge 
accumulated on the subject, in some corners of the globe the horse is still 
being subdued by cave-man methods. The distressing part of it is that 
many of us still derive sincere pleasure out of a brutal mastery of the 
horse. Many times I have completely failed to eradicate this instinct in 
the hearts of my pupils. I can remember several instances when my pupils 
of many months standing, who were trying to learn how to get the best, 
artistic performance out of a horse, would derive their greatest pleasure 
not from the latter but out of the emergency subduing of a bucking or 
rearing horse. 

While it is easy to abuse your horse mentally without noticing the little 
inconsiderate things which one may do without meaning harm, it is also 
as easy to acquire a habit of thinking about your mount as a living being. 
It is encouraging to realize that the horse by his nature normally tries to 
cooperate and be good, and it is disturbing to know how often he is not 
given a chance to do so. Great satisfaction can be derived by any civilized 
human being out of the consciousness that he is kind to his animals, par- 
ticularly those he uses for his pleasure. There are thousands upon thou- 
sands of riders in this country who have a great accumulation of delightful 
experiences derived from companionship with their horses. If you don't 
happen to be one of them I would like to suggest your trying it; it will 
increase greatly your pleasure in being in the saddle. I am particularly 
addressing these words to a young woman who, while sitting on the horse's 
kidneys and pulling with all her might on the curb, was overheard to say: 
''Oh boy, ain't riding funl" 

And what about punishment? If your schooling is based on the ancient 
law of reward and punishment, and you are very faithful in observing it, 
then the horse quickly learns to understand the meaning of both. He 
learns to understand the meaning of punishment especially fast if the 
rider is careful never to ask more than the horse can easily do at that 
particular stage. In such cases, and when the punishment is in proportion 
to the disobedience, the punishment is not a cruelty but merely an un- 
pleasant though just necessity. Omitting rewards while exaggerating pun- 



18 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

ishments is an abuse. As a general and not always accurate rule one can say 
that the better the trainer the less punishment he needs to apply to his 
horses. Most disobedience takes place when a rider, lacking in equestrian 
tact, asks from his horse more than he can do that day without straining 

himself. 

And here is another fundamental point to consider. Nature did not 
form the horse for riding. It just so happened that his size, his swiftness 
and his comparative docility made him attractive to man as a mount. 
For instance, as approximate alternatives, the average deer or antelope 
would have been too small, the ox too slow and the zebra wholly intrac- 
table. 

If you were to look at the skeleton of the horse, at the distribution of 
the heavy bones, you would agree that pulling is easier for the horse than 
carrying weight on his back, which is strong only in the area immediately 
behind the withers. But if the horse wasn't made for riding he was made 
still less for jumping. Dr. S. H. Chubb, curator of comparative anatomy at 
the Museum of Natural History in New York, in one of his articles says: 
". . . the earliest ancestral horse . . . was a small animal hardly 
larger than a fox. In order to escape from his carnivorous enemies which, 
in his early day, were beginning to develop to a menacing degree, and 
also to cover the ever widening distance between his gradually drying 
pasture land and his drinking resorts, he and his descendants were obliged 
to increase their speed, if the species was to be perpetuated. To this end 
size must be developed within practical limits. . . ." The horse as a grass- 
feeding animal originated and developed on the flat plains where there 
was no necessity for adapting his body to high jumping. The histories of 
all the better jumping animals are quite different. In searching for the 
horse's inability, rather than ability, to jump high we have to examine his 
body and compare it with those of other animals which jump better, par- 
ticularly of the feline and canine families. To be thorough we should 
really compare many items, such as muscles, reflexes, etc,, but for our pur- 
pose a comparison of the skeletons will suffice. Pictures 1, 2 and 3 show, 
respectively, skeletons of a horse, a Russian Wolfhound (both at a run) 
and of a cat. Comparing these skeletons we will easily notice the following 
differences: 

1) The horse has eighteen pairs of ribs; the dog and the cat have only 
thirteen. Consequently, the last two animals have more room to draw 
their hindquarters under their bodies than has the horse, The greater the 
ability to engage the hindquarters (combined with greater flexibility of 
the spinal column), the mightier the spring of the take-off. 

2) In the case of all three animals that we discuss the hind legs are 
longer than the front ones. But they are especially long in the case of the 
cat and the dog. This length added to the ability to close the angles to a 
greater degree, increases the power of the spring. 



IMAGINE YOU ARE A HORSE 19 

3) The paws of the dog and of the cat have many joints and soft pad- 
dings. These give added impetus to the spring at the take-off and are 
excellent shock-absorbers when landing. In comparison with the paw, the 
hoof is a very unsatisfactory arrangement for jumping. 

Everything that I have just said doesn't mean that you should never 
jump the horse or gallop him, or that you should ride him always at a 
walk. Not at all. It merely means that there should be limits to your re- 
quirements, limits which vary with different horses and, therefore, that you 
should consider the limitations of your particular horse. It also means 
that you should, by schooling, gradually prepare your horse for work 
and should sit and control him rationally. Under these conditions a 
great deal can be asked of the horse without mental or physical abuse. 

Inadequately as the horse's body is constructed for jumping, he still 
can jump rather high and broad and in doing so instinctively tries to use 
his body as efficiently as he is able to. Pictures 4 and 5 show what different 
efforts a free horse makes during the take-off and the landing. In between 
these two extremities of the jump there is a period of flight with its own 
quite different efforts. These pictures demonstrate conspicuously that the 
rider, in order not to abuse the horse, must learn to avoid interfering 
with the horse's natural efforts and particularly with those of the back 
and neck. In the chapter WHAT IS A GOOD PERFORMANCE OF 
THE HORSE you will find a detailed description of the horse's efforts in 
jumping; here I merely wish to make you conscious of the fact that a rider 
can be a considerable hindrance to the horse in jumping. I am extremely 
sorry that I am unable to reproduce here pictures of the latest world 
record high jump made in Chile in 1949. The rider was Captain Larra- 
guibel, the name of the horse is Huaso, and the height of the jump 2m 
47cm. (a little better than 8'1"). A glance at these pictures would show 
you that the rider was not interfering with the efforts of either the back or 
the forehand of the horse with his weight, while his hands gave full free- 
dom to the neck and head. So evidently at the moment of the jump this 
rider was not disturbing his horse. But, of course, this is not sufficient 
reason in itself for clearing such an obstacle. There must have been at 
least two more factors: a naturally talented horse and gradual preparation 
for the day of the record. Here is a short account of the development of 
Huaso: 

Huaso was foaled in 1933. 

In 1945 his record was 2m 12cm. I /^ meter* 3'3") 

In 1947 his record was 2m 20cm. ' 

In 1949 his record was 2m 47cm. 

The previous world record was made by a horse Osopo, ridden by an Italian officer? 
Captain A. Guttierez, 2m 44cm., in 1938. 



20 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

And here is the description of Huaso's final conditioning during the 
four months which preceded the record jump. The above and following 
data are taken from the French magazine L'Eperon, for February, 1950: 

Feed: 13 Ib. of oats, 9 Ib. of hay, 4 l / 2 Ib. of Luzerne, 2 Ib. of carrots. 

During the last weeks: 33 Ib. of oats, 9 Ib. of hay, 6 l /2 Ib. of Luzerne, 4 Ib. 
of carrots. 

Water: One spoonful of bicarbonate of soda added to water given after work. 

Tonics: Aracil, Tomopofan, vitamin B during the last fifteen days. 

The Work: Twice daily. General work in the morning; in the afternoon a walk in 
hand. 

The periods of trot and gallop were gradually increased. Finally a gallop of 
fifteen minutes on each lead was asked from Huaso. Also the increase and the 
decrease of gaits, halts, backing, flexions, circles, semi-circles, half-turns on the 
forehand and on the haunches, changes of leads, etc. Jumping was practiced 
once a week without a rider; never higher than 2m. Once every two weeks 
he was jumped mounted never higher than 2m 20cm. 

After such a careful conditioning the already outstanding jumper 
Huaso could establish a world record without being harmed either men- 
tally or physically. There is not an ounce of cruelty in this case. On the 
other hand, a horse may be abused by the seat and control of his rider or 
through lack of training on a comparatively small jump; twenty such 
jumps daily, and in a couple of months the horse will begin to show signs 
of mental and physical wear and tear. 

From my experience in making horsemen I know what a tremendous 
satisfaction the majority of people derive from jumping horses which 
have been prepared for this work by gradual schooling and which hence 
jump naturally and athletically. If you were the owner of such a horse 
(and I hope you are), and knew how to sit and control him (and I hope 
you know), then you would never be satisfied with the awkward jump of 
a half-trained horse. The pleasure of jumping a schooled horse is two- 
fold: it consists in the wonderful physical sensation of a really good jump, 
as well as in the emotional satisfaction that the horse is not hurt while 
giving pleasure. 

There is at least one more abuse of the horse, which unfortunately is 
frequently encountered; that is working the colt too early in life. The 
horse, particularly the thoroughbred, grows till he is six or seven years 
old. At the age of three years he is just a baby and neither his bones, 
tendons nor his mentality can stand vigorous work under the weight 
of the rider. His size, and the energy which he displays when playing free 
in the fields, deceive the inexperienced human eye by overemphasizing his 
strength and hiding his weaknesses. By working the horse hard, and 
particularly by jumping him, at the age of three, you are taking the chance 
of crippling him and by the time he is five years old he may be through 
with his serviceable life. It is just a matter of luck whether he will be 



IMAGINE YOU ARE A HORSE 21 

crippled merely to the point where he can be allowed to exist as an un- 
important hack or will have to be destroyed. Of course, even in the latter 
case the human tendency to justify one's actions may unconsciously invent 
other reasons for the horse's injuries. I have heard people blaming he- 
redity, the horse's bucking when playing free, his misbehavior in the stall, 
slippery ground, a particular incident, bad luck with capital letters, etc. 
Very few people will have the courage to say honestly "I have murdered 
my horse." Many of those who work and jump their horses too early have 
read, and probably several times, the advice of experienced, intelligent 
horsemen that work with the horse should not begin before he is four years 
old and that nothing really strenuous should be asked of him before he is 
fully mature, that is six years old. Now, if they have read it, why don't 
they practice it? For many reasons: some cannot afford to keep a horse 
idle for so long; others don't have the patience; many are ready to take a 
chance, hoping that their horses will prove exceptions (there are excep- 
tions); but often riders cripple and kill their horses just because they 
don't think. Here we are back to where I started this chapter: the major 
difficulties in making horsemen (not merely riders) revolve around 
people's reluctance to think honestly about their horses, themselves and 
their riding. 

The character and mentality of many animals which can be easily kept 
in laboratories, have been analyzed scientifically; it hasn't been done with 
the horse. "Why, in order to do it we would have to move to a farm," a 
specialist in animal behavior once said to me. So, it looks as if until some 
scientist consents to rusticate, all our knowledge of the matter will con- 
tinue to consist of the accumulation of practical experiences. All out- 
standing horsemen agree that: 

1) The horse's intelligence and reasoning powers are low in comparison 
with those of some other animals such as the monkey, elephant, dog, cat, 
etc. This is an important fact to remember, for the usual mistake of an 
inexperienced trainer is to over-estimate the intelligence of the horse and 
hence to present the lesson to his pupil in a manner way over his head. 
Due to this misunderstanding many horses are turned into nervous 
wrecks. 

2) The horse has an excellent memory and clearly remembers not only 
roads but lessons which he has learned, and pleasant as well as unpleas- 
ant experiences. This memory is the great ally of a good trainer and 
the first enemy of a bad one. Bewildering use of the aids by the rider, 
a jerk on the jump, senseless punishment, etc., will be as vividly remem- 
bered by the horse as the comparatively pleasant sensation of non-abuse 
when well-ridden. 

3) The horse learns by association of ideas. For instance, as a rule the 
horse understands a new movement more quickly if it is started every 
time at the same place in the ring. For the same reason, when teaching a 



22 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

new movement the aids must be always exactly the same and punishment 
or reward come close on the heels of the action. It is usually agreed in this 
respect that about three seconds is the time limit of the horse's ability to 
associate cause with effect. Since in actual work these three seconds may 
be much too short to check the horse to give him a piece of carrot, or 
even to pat him, the horse must learn to know two special intonations 
of the voice, one meaning "bad" and the other meaning "good." 

4) Disappointing as it may be to some, it must be admitted that the 
horse has no real love for us human beings. He recognizes us; he is re- 
laxed when mounted by a rider with whom he has had pleasant experi- 
ence; he becomes nervous when a bad rider, whom he recognizes, puts his 
foot into the stirrup, and is pleased to see a man who feeds him, particu- 
larly if the latter appears during feeding hour, but that is about all. 

5) He is very gregarious, shy even to the point of being panicky at 
times, and now, after centuries of domestication, cooperates with man, 
on whom he depends. Trainers and riders must do everything to encour- 
age this cooperation. Many bad riders kill it at the outset and only pro- 
voke resistance which eventually becomes a habit. 

The above-listed characteristics, which are perhaps the most important 
for a rider to remember, don't cover, of course, the whole character of 
the horse. Just to stimulate further your thinking on the subject, I 
would like to quote from MANUAL OF VETERINARY PHYSIOLOGY, by Major 
General Sir F. Smith, first published in 1892 by Balliere, Tindall 8c Cox, 
London. I think it contains many thought provoking ideas. 

". . . In the horse the moral sense is very small; we do not think he 
knows he is doing anything wrong when he periodically kicks his stable 
into matchwood, or runs away, but he understands that he should not re- 
fuse a jump, and a horse careless in his walk or trot knows exactly what 
every stumble will be followed by, and anticipates matters accordingly. 
The use of the term, 'moral sense/ is open to objection in the case of ani- 
mals, but it appears to the writer that something equivalent to the moral 
sense does exist in them. The expression on a dog's face when he has done 
something he knows to be wrong, or at any rate, which he knows is against 
the rules laid down for his life, conveys a conception of the existence of 
moral sense. Strength of will most animals lose as the result of domesti- 
cation: . . . but there are notable exceptions for instance, the ass, mule 
and occasionally the horse. The so-called stupidity of the ass and pro- 
voking obstinacy of the mule are not indications of want of intelligence. 
The majority of horses, on the other hand, have no great strength of will; 
they can be rendered docile and tractable, they will gallop until they drop, 
work at a high pressure when low would suffice, can never apparently 
learn the obvious lesson that it is the 'willing horse* which suffers, and 
that the harder they work the more they get to do. All this is due to 
defective intelligence and a want of the higher faculties; they cannot rea- 



IMAGINE YOU ARE A HORSE 23 

son like the dog or elephant, and are more flexible than the ass or mule. 
Some horses show signs of reasoning and are capable of grasping a posi- 
tion. A load so heavy as to be beyond the limit of his power, or some other 
cause, has taught him to refuse to work; to use the familiar expression he 
'jibs/ he has learned to disobey, he has learned his own strength, and the 
comparative powerlessness of his master, and this through an exercise of 
reason. In other words, the horse which refuses to wear himself out in the 
service of man is one possessing too much intelligence and strength of 
will for a slave; a 'jibber' is an intelligent and not a stupid horse. . . . 
If the horse possesses but little affection, this defect is compensated for by 
his cherishing no ill will; to all his hard life and the abominable cruelties 
of domestication he shows no sign of resentment; water and feed him, and 
give him a place to lie in, and he forgets the past in his anxiety for the 
present. He is a peculiar mixture of courage and cowardice; physical 
suffering he can endure, no animal bears pain better; when his blood is 
up nothing is too big or too wide for him in the hunting-field, . . . but 
the same horse is frightened out of his life by a piece of paper blowing 
across the road, or by his own shadow ... no animal is more readily 
seized with panic, and this spreads amongst a body of horses like an 
electric shock. Yet panic must not be held to indicate an absence of rea- 
son, though the rapidity of its spread in the case of a stampede may sug- 
gest it. ... The dog, with all his intelligence, is acutely affected by a 
pot tied to his tail, but it does not cause all the dogs he meets to stampede. 
. Distinct acts of reason are rare; of the lack of these we daily see 
examples in our hospitals namely, horses injured in the most severe 
manner through their own struggles when placed in a little difficulty, such 
as a head rope around the leg, or an inability to rise when down, owing 
to being too close to the wall, or some trifling circumstance of this kind. 
In these difficulties, if he employed any reasoning powers he would re- 
main quiet until released, instead of which he behaves like a lunatic, 
inflicting on himself in a short time injuries which may lay him up for 
months. . . . Every horse knows a truss of hay or straw by sight. The 
point need not be laboured, yet no horse will pass a truss of either lying 
in the road. He appears unable to reason that what he is familiar with in. 
the stable may be no more dangerous when met with in an unusual 
situation. . . . The horse is very conservative; he does not like anything 
new or any departure from his ordinary mode of life. ... His gregarious 
instincts are proverbial; he frets at the absence of his companions and if 
used to work amongst a body of horses, as in cavalry, he will take any 
degree of punishment rather than leave them for a few minutes. During 
the absence of his companions he neighs, sweats, paws with the fore-legs, 
and almost screams with delight on rejoining them ... his predominant 
feature, and the feature of all animals below adult man, is the childishness 
present throughout life; probably the absence of care, worry and anxiety 
may account for this. The horse will play all day with a piece of rope, or 



24 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

nibble his neighbour persistently; even the oldest horses, when fresh, 
will perform the antics of a foal, and imitation amongst them is so uni- 
versal that, if one of a string of horses being led along happens to kick 
out, this repeats itself all along the line as if by preconceived arrange- 
ment. . . . Lord Avebury remarked that he had always felt a great long- 
ing to know how the world appeared to animals. It seems impossible to 
believe that their minds are a blank. A dog in search of his master has 
had his mind occupied, and as during sleep he dreams, it is evident that 
the thoughts which have passed through it have left an impression. Even 
with the horse it is impossible to believe that daylight and darkness, 
food and water, work and rest, form the only subjects of thought as they 
present themselves. The whole question bristles with difficulties and as 
Avebury says, we have tried to obtain information of the senses and in- 
telligence of animals by teaching them our ideas, rather than devising a 
language or code of signals by means of which they might communicate 
theirs to us." 

When a person realizes that his love for the horse will have to be one- 
sided it may discourage him to the point where he will lose all feeling 
for the animal. However, in addition to the fact that a beautiful animal 
attracts normal human beings, there may be also a strong sense of re- 
sponsibility toward a dumb creature who gives us pleasure and is exclu- 
sively dependent on us. These and other feelings, uniting in some sort of 
manner combine in many of us into a true love of horses. When this love 
goes beyond the superficial admiration of the horse as a physical organism 
then a very humane and civilized attitude toward horses takes place. As 
an example of such an attitude and as (I hope) an inspiration for the 
novice, I would like to quote here from a letter. This letter was written 
in the late thirties by a gentleman breeder in Northern Ireland when 
about to ship my horse Barnaby Bright to America. It was written after 
all the papers were signed and the money paid: 

". . . Poor Barnaby's neck was very sore and stiff after the second 
inoculation ... he was rather snappy for a couple of days when it was 
sore, but is as amiable and friendly as ever now. He sometimes puts his 
ears back and looks quite cross when you first go into the stable, but once 
you get up to him no horse could be more gentle, and he will lick your 
hands and clothes for ages without ever nipping with his teeth. He hates 
being spoken crossly to, and gets quite nervous and frightened if anyone 
does so, although he has never been treated with anything but kindness, 
and he is so good that one never has to speak crossly to him. He is very 
fond of his food, and we had more difficulty in keeping him from getting 
too fat than in getting condition on him. He is very quick for a big horse 
and inclines to be playful, but I have never known him either to buck 
or kick. He is very sensible and careful of himself; for instance if it is 
slippery he will shorten his stride. ... I hope he will get a nice calm 
voyage; it has been rather stormy here lately, but the wind has dropped 



The horse (18 pair of ribs). 




Pic. 2. The dog (13 pair of ribs). 




Photos by courtesy of American Museum of Natural History 

Pic. 3. The cat (13 pairs of ribs and a longer back) 

A comparison of the three skeletons shows how a lesser number of ribs and a 
longer back result in greater flexibility of the back and therefore in greater 
ability to engage the hindquarters. The comparative stiffness of the horse's back 
is one of the reasons for his inferior jumping ability; for other reasons also 




Pic. 4. This picture, taken at the moment of the release of the spring which 
was previously accumulated in the hindquarters, shows how the impulse which 
originated in the muscles and joints of the hindquarters goes through the whole 
body, stretching the back and neck. Now the neck and head begin their gestures 
downward to facilitate the clearing of the obstacle by the forehand. Notice 
excellent folding of the forelegs. 




'-*,;$' ^7^1 w -: ' '& \ 

fii^ 

From if Jumping the Horse" by V, S. Littauer 

Pic. 5. This picture was taken a fraction of a second before the first foot to land 
touched the ground. In preparation for the landing the forelegs are stretched 
forward; the neck and head are making upward gestures which will free the 
shoulders for extension and also will help to absorb some of the shock of impact. 
A fraction of a second earlier, when the hindlegs were still over the obstacle, the 



IMAGINE YOU ARE A HORSE 25 

altogether today. He is due to sail from Belfast on Saturday 17th and it 
will be very sad parting from him, but it is some comfort to know that he 
is going to someone who will appreciate him and be fond of him, as I am 
sure you will be when you get to know him, as he is a most likeable horse. 
I hope you will never regret the day you bought him, and that he will be 
a tremendous success with you; but even if he is not, I hope you will still 
be kind to him, and will never let him go down the hill." 

Every chapter in this book while still in the rough has been read and 
criticized by several friends and pupils. The following part of this chapter 
is being added on the strength of their suggestions. All my readers ex- 
pressed the opinion that, so far, I have not made my point clear enough, 
at least to those who are already in the habit of unconsciously abusing 
the animal or to those novices who don't know anything about horses, 
are very much impressed by the outward show of riding, and may as easily 
fall under bad influence as under good. All my readers advised me to dis- 
cuss three terms at greater length Cruelty, abuse and punishment. 

Cruelty is wanton, abuse is unconscious and punishment is justifiable; 
although there are moments when, to all outward appearances, these three 
may resemble each other very closely. Let me illustrate this. 

Several years ago at Madison Square Garden one of the horses of a 
visiting military team refused two or three times in the course of the first 
evening. He did the same thing the following day under a different rider. 
The horse had been a very willing and good jumper (or he would not 
have been brought here across the sea) and naturally the officers 1 first 
suspicion was that the horse was in pain in some way. Two veterinaries in- 
spected the horse very carefully and pronounced him completely sound. 
No reason could be found for it to hurt the horse to jump. It was obviously 
a case of sheer stubbornness. So the captain of the team mounted the horse 
himself, wearing sharp spurs, and pushed the horse through the course 
without getting a single refusal. But somewhere along the way he used 
one of his spurs too severely, broke the skin and the horse's side showed 
a little blood. This was noticed by another rider who was standing at the 
gate when the horse was led away and he reported it to the judges. This 
rider, by the way, whom I knew personally very well, did not do this 
through maliciousness; he really loved horses and merely wished to protect 
an animal. But being an elderly man he had neither a correct nor a suf- 
ficiently firm seat, was usually left behind, banging the horse's back and 
jerking his mouth. After the first rider had had an unpleasant conversa- 
tion with the officials of the show he approached the rider who had com- 
plained about him and said in his broken English "when you jerk your 
horse on every jump, I don't tell it to the judges." 

This story presents the complicated situation in which a person who 
constantly but unconsciously inflicts pain on the horse was sincerely 
aroused when he saw the visible result of one moment of pain. In his 



26 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

case it was abuse, which has only the excuse of ignorance, while the use of 
sharp spurs in the other case was a justifiable punishment. The only 
argument may be whether it was too severe or not. 

Now, if the horse in question were to refuse the jumps, not due to an 
attack of stubbornness but because the fences were too big or too compli- 
cated for him (perhaps because he was not schooled and had not the 
physique to negotiate such obstacles) and the rider knowing it, with spurs 
and whip attempted to force him to jump the course, that would be 
cruelty. 

I would like to give you a few more examples of the difference between 
abuse and cruelty. 

Abuse: 1) When the rider has a poor seat which is disturbing to the 
horse. 

2) When the rider hangs on the horse's mouth and jerks him 
because he does not know how to use his arms and hands 
properly. 

3) When for the sake of staying with hounds for his own 
pleasure a rider, unknowingly exhausts his horse who is 
not fit for such strenuous work. 

4) When one jumps very high fences on a three-year-old, be- 
lieving that it will not hurt the horse. 

5) When one jumps too much, not realizing that the horse can- 
not take it, etc. 

All the above listed are cases of abuse when done unthinkingly. But 
cases like jumping too high or too much (for a certain horse), or making 
him work too hard in general, if practiced by people who know exactly 
what they are doing and still do it, are examples of cruelty. Words like 
abuse and cruelty are rather strong and I would never venture to say what 
I just have were it only my personal opinion. 

No matter how good a rider and trainer one is, and how cooperative 
one's horse, punishment can never be completely avoided in riding. Of 
course, if the resistance which has necessitated punishment was brought 
about by bad, inconsiderate riding, then the punishment itself is either 
abuse or cruelty. For instance if I know that my horse's jumping limit 
is V and I am whipping him into a 4'6" obstacle, this is cruelty. But if one 
omits all the cases of unnecessarily inflicted punishment, justifiable pun- 
ishment will still remain in the picture. After all, no matter how good 
the horse is, he is no better than us human beings and we all need oc- 
casionally to be put in our places. 

Superficial thinking on these matters results in the peculiar situation 
where people who abuse horses, may at the same time be reluctant to 
punish a horse. In this respect a "jerk" is held in particular horror. 

The rider can punish the horse with spurs, whip or reins. Practically 



IMAGINE YOU ARE A HORSE 27 

every book on riding recommends the first two means and disapproves 
of punishing with a jerked rein, implying that is is too severe. To me this 
point of view doesn't make sense for two reasons: 

1) The horse may disobey the rider's legs or he may disobey the rider's 
hands. The spurs and the whip are the obvious means with which to 
punish the disobedience to the legs, but it would take a genius among 
horses to understand that the whip is a punishment for pulling or trying 
to run away. 

2) A jerk does not have to be severe. As a matter of fact it can be very 
mild, so mild that it will inflict no pain at all; it will be merely a restraint. 
This is particularly so if one rides on a plain hunting snaffle and this 
whole book is about riding on the snaffle. On the other hand, we all know 
that a lash with the whip can be very painful. 

People say that even soft jabs will ruin the sensibility of the horse's 
mouth. I don't see how they can do it if used only as a punishment, for, 
after all, how many times will you use the jerk as such? If you are a sen- 
sible rider obviously very rarely. On the other hand, I have two films of 
Dressage riders, both internationally known, one of them among the 
world's best, and on the screen it is very conspicuous that they jerk their 
horses about once every couple of strides at the extended trot and this 
is while riding with a full bridle. And still the mouths of their horses are 
obviously not ruined (for, if they were, it would be impossible for them 
to execute the remainder of the Dressage program with the finesse with 
which it is done). What really ruins a horse's mouth is constant hanging 
on the reins. 

Two days ago I was at a horse show and saw how a number of riders 
were diminishing the speed of their horses during the approach to ob- 
stacles by a series of "half-halts." Now, a "half-halt" is a very hard thing 
to execute softly as the theory of it calls for, and consequently all but one 
of the riders in this particular show were merely jerking their horses back. 
But it is very possible that at least some of them held jerking in horror. 
There is some sort of mental black-out concerning this word. It has 
reached such an absurd point that I have heard some riders, when recom- 
mending a mild jerk, call it "a bump on the mouth from the bit." 

Obviously avoiding use of the word "jerk," or even avoiding the actual 
use of the jerk itself as a punishment does not make the horse happier if 
the rider hangs on his mouth or jerks him without realizing it and for no 
reason whatever but the defects of his own riding. 

The gist of all this is that any kind of deserved punishment admin- 
istered as lightly as practical and as rarely as possible is unavoidable in 
riding, while senseless infliction of pain should have no part in it. 

A teacher must always do everything possible to make his pupils con- 
scious of unjustifiable jerking of the horse. This, by the way, is why I rarely 
teach "half-halts," and why I insist that the ordinary rider should put 
his hands on the horse's neck with the reins looping during a jump, and 



28 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

why I require that a jerk as punishment (always with the snaffle) should 
be inflicted judiciously and only if there is no other way to stop the 
horse's disobedience to rider's hands. If the horse is never jerked in riding 
except when he misbehaves, then he quickly learns to understand what it 
means and punishment becomes less and less necessary. Punishment does 
not have to spell cruelty if the rider thinks straight. Knowing what one is 
doing is usually less cruel than preaching one thing and practicing 
another. 

The subject of humane riding is inexhaustible and I have not intended 
to cover it fully in this chapter. 1 merely wanted to point out how easy 
it is for a novice to become confused in his emotional treatment of the 
horse and how carefully he should think about the seemingly simple 
points of his relationship with his mount. 

Obviously any humane approach to the horse would recognize the 
necessity of schooling, in other words, of developing the horse physically, 
and preparing him mentally, before he is required to do strenuous work 
in the hunting field or show ring. In this respect I would like to quote 
from a booklet of The Canadian Equestrian Society, and organization to 
develop horses and riders for a Canadian Equestrian Team in the Olympic 
Games of 1952. Paragraph 25 of this booklet reads as follows: 

"Proper training methods develop sound, humane techniques as ap- 
posed to practices which cannot be considered humane. Therefore, all 
horse-lovers should encourage the efforts of the Society in raising the 
standards and knowledge of the proper techniques in training horses for 
equestrian competition." 



CHAPTER III 

The Search for Balance 

The term "rider" is very indefinite. Anyone who mounts and masters 
his horse for one purpose or another is a rider; even a gentleman who 
rides twice weekly at the prescription of his doctor can be called so. Under 
this definition the primitive tribesman of Asia and the polished exhibi- 
tor of High School horses rub elbows. 

The term a "good rider" is equally unspecific, its interpretation de- 
pending on local aims and standards. Some nomads will unquestionably 
be considered good riders by their fellow tribesmen, while many High 
School riders, not so accomplished as others at the same art, will be classi- 
fied by us as poor. If you were to visualize these two riders side by side 
you would appreciate the fact that the term good rider doesn't mean 
much outside the local situation. 

There is another term which is somewhat more definite a "horseman." 
The very word implies the cooperation of two beings and it always sounds 
to me as if it designated some sort of partnership between them, instead 
of the mere mastery of the one by the other. To me a horseman is not 
necessarily a man who uses his aids artistically, but rather a human being 
who practices his riding on the basis of complete consideration of his 
mount's abilities and limitations. If one accepts the term horseman in 
this sense then a High School rider may be a horseman and may not be; 
the same applies to the primitive tribesman and the latter, despite the 
simplicity of his aims, may happen to be a better horseman than an edu- 
cated rider of the Western world. For instance, a man who cripples his 
horse in a supreme effort to win in a competition may be considered a 
sportsman (at least by some), may be a good rider, 'but his lack of con- 
sideration of the horse deprives him of the right to be called a horseman. 

Many years ago I heard somewhere a definition o horsemanship which 
I have repeated ever since. It runs: "Horsemanship consists of obtaining 
from the horse the best possible performance, using the least of his nerv- 
ous and physical energies." This definition should be accompanied by 
the notation that this ideal performance can be obtained only through a 
happy combination of schooling, control and seat. Hence every rational 
method of riding consists of a harmonious use of these three elements. 

This definition seems to imply that, for instance, clearing a 4'6" course 
while making the horse nervous and over-jumping every fence is not good 
riding. But, judging by the applause which normally follows such a win- 
ning round, the spirit of this definition obviously is not shared by all, A 

29 



30 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

horseman's appreciation of riding is not general, while a competitor's 
point of view is common and although we refer, in prose and verse, to the 
horse as a "noble animal" our feelings toward him often go no deeper than 
beautiful phrases. In actuality the horse is frequently an abused animal. 
In the majority of cases he is unwittingly abused, merely through igno- 
rance, often by the very same people who are so sentimental about him. 
Life in our mechanized age, with its nervous tempo and ever-present 
spirit of competition, is not conducive to an instinctive appreciation of 
horsemanship, in the sense I have described. Therefore education is 
necessary and to this end this book is dedicated. 

My own riding life began without benefit of such sophisticated consider- 
ations. On my twelfth birthday I was given a horse; a groom escorted 
me several times, giving me a few most elementary pointers, after which 
I was turned loose in the steppes of southern Russia. The horse was a 
single-footer, of a type probably similar to the old-fashioned plantation 
horse. Three years later, in preparation for the cavalry, which began to 
loom as my future career, I took lessons from a sergeant of the regiment 
stationed near-by. He taught me to sit smartly erect, with long stirrups, 
feet parallel to the horse, hands held high, and to keep the horse's chin in. 
Such things I learned to do well; what it was all about. I had no idea, but 
everyone said that I was "a natural," and it seemed to me that I was. 

It was said in the old Russian army that a cavalry officer is born with 
spurs on, a phrase which jokingly expressed an emotional belief that once 
you belonged to this caste you were a perfect horseman. Unquestionably 
today to most of my readers the pictures which illustrate the riding of 
fifty years ago will be uninspiring, to say the least, but many friends of 
my youth still like to talk of the splendid riding of the good old days; the 
map of this country is covered with similar "mutual admiration societies." 

I graduated from the cavalry school in 1913. You probably have seen 
many pictures of the riding and jumping of the time, the riders sitting 
erect or leaning back, while the horses jump in a stiff, unnatural way, 
backs caved-in and heads jerked upward; as a rule, to make the point 
stronger, modern books reproduce really bad examples of the riding of 
the period. These are easy to pick out, for then as always, more people 
rode badly than well and, then as today, horses were often abused. 

This writing does not intend to concern itself with various local 
equestrian fads but rather with an analysis of the evolution of educated 
riding, hence I reproduce a picture which illustrates the ideal of the 
period. It is from one of the text books which we studied in school; as 
a matter of fact, it is taken from an internationally known book, BREAKING 
AND RIDING by James Fillis. (Pic. 6). The best riders, of course, knew how 
to put these ideas into effect and the French officer (Pic. 7) must have 
been greatly admired. In every country educated riding was the same, the 
method was universal, and today we usually call it "Dressage." It was 
primarily ring riding and it did not develop artistic jumping as we know 
it now. 



THE SEARCH FOR BALANCE 31 

The Dressage method of riding, as any real horseman's method, con- 
sidered that a knowledge of the balance of the horse, the mechanics of his 
motion and peculiarities of his character should be the basis in conceiv- 
ing the rider's position, the system of control and the routine of schooling. 

At this point I can see some of my readers beginning to skip lines and 
turn pages, looking for what is commonly termed "practical advice." 
So, to arrest your attention on these very lines, here is some which is one 
hundred per cent practical. Believe me, you will never become a horse- 
man if the only type of suggestions you are going to look for are such as 
these: "keep your heels down and hold your stirrups under the balls of 
your feet;" "to start the canter on the right lead keep your right leg at 
the girth, while with the left leg etc., etc." These are secondary and 
elementary considerations. In riding, as in everything else, an understand- 
ing of fundamental ideas is all important, while details like heels down 
don't make horsemen. Appreciation of the importance of the horse's bal- 
ance is basic and hence the whole of this chapter is devoted to it. There 
are no other ways, there are no short-cuts, and to make your efforts in the 
saddle worthwhile you just have to learn the basic theory. To cheer you 
up it is very simple. 

Although formed on generally sound principles, the theory of Dressage 
riding had many erroneous ideas and one of them was, that the horse 
under the rider is in a state of perfect equilibrium only if his weight is 
evenly distributed on his four feet. The stability of a squarely-standing, 
four-legged table was brought up as a parallel example by every teacher 
that I had. Perhaps you know that such a distribution of weight can be 
obtained only through collection; hence collection was the foundation of 
this method of riding (for the definition of collection see Chapter IX). 
And although freedom was given to horses at the full gallop and on the 
jump itself, this freedom could not live happily with the basic principle 
of collection; a hodge-podge resulted the moment a horse was taken into 
the open. In riding halls, in the hands of good riders, the collected (Dres- 
sage) horses performed with great precision and style while some able 
jumpers leaped six feet and better in spite of the abuse they suffered under 
their riders. Of course there were not enough of "natural jumpers" to go 
around, and attempts at collection in the hands of the majority, then as 
today, disintegrated into mere pulling on the curb. Most horses under 
troopers hung on the riders hands and moved forward with short, ugly 
steps. But somehow for years everyone was pleased, and members of vari- 
ous groups admired each other as members of such groups do today. 

It was a static period in riding which, with minor changes and excite- 
ments, lasted for about seventy-five years. Then suddenly these happy, 
peaceful, self-satisfied times came to an abrupt end around the year 
1900, when an Italian officer, Federico Caprilli, came forth with entirely 
new principles of how to school, control and sit a cross-country horse and 
a jumper. Naturally, when I say that the pleasant slumber was over, I 



32 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

mean that it was over for the upper level of horsemen, the majority of 
riders remaining in a state of mental inertia; some of them still today see 
the dreams of the 'nineties. While the majority was not interested in the 
new method, some began actively to oppose it primarily because it was 
new. To so many of us the first version of a story remains the only true 
one for the rest of our lives. 

I insert here the portrait of Federico Gaprilli (Pic. 8) for you may like 
to see the kind, clever face of the father of modern riding. Caprilli died 
in 1907. Pictures 9 and 10 are of Italian officers jumping prior to 1910. 
Looking at these free, natural, quietly-jumping horses, the riders following 
their movements with their bodies and arms, I feel rather sick when I 
remember that three years later I was still learning an archaic method of 
riding. 

As early as 1906 one of the foremost sportsmen of the Russian army, 
Lt. P. P. Rodzianko, was studying in the Italian cavalry school and, if I 
am not mistaken, the first Americans to go there were Major H. D. Cham- 
berlin and Major W. W, West, Jr., both in 1923. By the time I was a lieu- 
tenant a dozen or so of the outstanding riders of the Russian army were 
"Italians" and many young officers like myself were enthusiastically wel- 
coming the new ideas. As an organization, the old army, while it existed, 
never accepted the new method and hence never gave courses in it. Prior 
to the revolution only one book and one pamphlet (both inadequate) 
were published in Russia and individual efforts like mine were generally 
governed by hearsay, reading and attempts to do the impossible, that is, 
to imitate what one saw in horse shows and photographs. The normal re- 
sult was, in my case anyway, a mixture of the old, of the new and of my 
own; a rather absurd hash, which unhappily combined some points of the 
new seat with mostly old principles of schooling and control. The old pre- 
dominated, particularly in difficult moments, such as during the approach 
to an obstacle, when we placed our horses and drove them forward with 
"the small of the back'* a typical idea of old-fashioned Classical riding. 

As I am writing this chapter, the book which was one of the main in- 
spirations of my youth THE ITALIAN CAVALRY SCHOOL AND THE NEW 
METHOD OF CROSS-COUNTRY RIDING AND THE TEACHING OF IT, written by 
P. P. Rodzianko upon his return from Italy and published in 1911, is 
before me. Now, that I know this method so well, it is obvious to me why 
I myself and a couple of my friends in the regiment, who were trying to 
change our riding primarily by reading, could not be successful; the new 
niethod was too radical. For instance on page X one reads (translation is 
mine): 

"Depending on the gaits, the character of the ground and the size o 
obstacles, the equilibrium of the horse undergoes different, and often 
considerable changes. The main aim of the rider is to feel these and to 
follow them with the movements of the body so as not to interfere with 
the natural balance of the horse . . . the flexibility of the rider's torso 





From "Breaking & Riding" by /. Fillis 

Pic. 6. The Taste of 1900. Shows the popular ideal of the rider's position on a 
fence as depicted in an illustration from the most influential book of the period. 
The best riders of fifty years ago could faultlessly put into practice the unfortu- 
nately erroneous ideas of their generation (Pic. 7). The method was universal 
and this picture of a French officer could be replaced by one of a rider of any 
nation except the Italians, who had already begun to work on new ideas under 
the leadership of Captain Federico Caprilli. 



Pic. 8. Captain Federico Caprilli, 
as he looked at the turn of the cen- 
tury. The majority of schools of to- 
day despite their differences and 
their vestiges of the old are funda- 
mentally based on Caprilli's teach- 
ing. He can truly be called the father 
of 20th century jumping and cross- 
country riding. 





Pics. 8, 9 and 10 are from a book on the Italian Cavalry School, by Captain P. Rodsianko, 

published in Russia, in 1911. 



Pic. 9 and 10. Italian officers jumping about 1905. These are some of the first 
pictures o the practical and very successful application of Captain Caprillf s ideas. 



THE SEARCH FOR BALANCE 33 

and the softness of his arms are particularly important . . . while collec- 
tion with the curb disturbs the natural balance of the horse, forcing him 
to transfer his center of gravity to the quarters and confines the freedom 
of movements of his head and neck, making it difficult for the horse both 
to restore and to change his equilibrium in motion." 

And here are some quotations, from the same book, concerning jump- 
ing (pages 61, 74, 75 & 145); 

". , . it is insisted that a cavalryman approaching an obstacle should 
in no case disturb his horse by too severe tightening of the reins or by 
useless urging him with the legs ... as a general rule no means should be 
used to urge the horse on the jump for it is too difficult to catch the right 
moment . . . urging is permissible only if a horse, after starting for a 
jump quietly and rhythmically, begins to slow down approaching the ob- 
stacle. The greater the obstacle the greater the passiveness of the rider 
should be, for in such cases one should avoid interfering with, the horse 
and instead give him an opportunity to figure out his jump * . . in 
general the horse must acquire the habit of jumping willingly . . . the 
horse should approach the obstacle quietly, without fear, and attentively; 
hence the rider should by all means avoid actions and movements which 
might be painful or disturbing to the horse ... the cavalryman should 
urge the horse only in cases when it is absolutely necessary for sustaining 
the gait." 

Now, after years of experience in schooling, I know how easy it is to 
apply these principles and what pleasant jumpers can be made if worked 
according to this method. But it was not so, in my case anyway, thirty- 
seven years ago. Then, just out of cavalry school, where I was taught 
riding based on the principle of Dressage that the horse must be led 
between the legs and hands, I, lacking instruction by a master of the new 
method, was bound to make a pretty sorry mess of it. I am a little ashamed 
of this period of my riding life and it was rather consoling the other day 
to meet a group o riders who now, almost half a century later, and with 
all the instruction available are still making ,a mess out of jumping, both 
physically and mentally. 

Finding excuses for my obvious inability to think straight in 1913, I 
would like to say that P. P. Rodzianko's book was primarily a military 
report, describing the method of teaching troopers in the Italian cavalry. 
A great deal of it was devoted to the discussion of normal cavalry activi- 
ties and comparatively little was said about the new method as applied to 
a sportsman. The description of the seat, for instance, was very sketchy 
and mechanics of it were not presented; I learned them much later, in 
New York. 

I began teaching in the United States in 1927 and late in 1929 I wrote 
my first book (in collaboration with my associate, the late Captain S. 
Kournakoff) TEN TALKS ON HORSEMANSHIP, really a series of lectures, 
which later were delivered over the N.B.C. network. I have just glanced 



34 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

through it again and I don't know of anything which is as good a presen- 
tation of my riding beliefs at that time as its one hundred and fifty pages. 
Obviously the key to its philosophy is the chapter entitled "The Balance 
of the Horse in Motion/' In it, after describing, more or less accurately, 
how the peculiarities of the structure of the horse's body result in a 
forward distribution of weight at a free stand-still and why a green horse 
under the rider will have a tendency to become over-balanced to the 
front, and how this should be overcome by at least an elementary collec- 
tion (which is wrong) I say: 

". . . the balance on the hindquarters, as described above, is just a part 
of the balance in a wider sense. By this we mean that the horse must be 
able to raise his head and bring his weight back for all slow movements 
and bring his weight forward by extending his neck for all fast move- 
ments . . . the horse having been taught to balance himself on the hind- 
quarters through work on slow gaits in the ring, will easily acquire the 
balance on the front when worked in the field on extended gaits; we might 
even say that the horse will find that balance by himself . . . the horse's 
balance, in a wider sense, is his ability to shift his center of gravity accord- 
ing to circumstances." 

The part of this quotation which refers to the fact that the horse in 
nature, depending on circumstances, will move holding his body collected 
or extended is, of course correct. What is disconcerting is that I was still 
thinking of the horse's balance as a certain static distribution of weight 
preserved permanently while the horse is in motion. This statement 
sounds as if the horse would distribute his weight forward or back, would 
hold it and then would be moved on a conveyer. 

Not only the movement of the horse, but that of all animals, including 
the human being, is based on the losing and recapturing of equilibrium. 
In walking, for instance, a man shifts his balance forward, taking it off the 
foot which is left on the ground and catching it again on the one which 
is being put down ahead of the body, aiding himself with balancing 
gestures of his arms. If he were to carry on his shoulders a monkey who, 
with some arrangements of ropes, were to try to keep his torso back and 
confine his arms it would certainly make the man nervous, awkward and 
impede his progress forward. 

The repeated loss of and retrieving of balance is more pronounced at 
fast, free gaits than at slow, collected ones. The horse's ability to maintain 
balance during fast movements and the jump depends on Kis strength 
and agility and knack of using those two factors. Exercises which call for 
rapid changes from slow collected to fast extended gaits unquestionably 
develop this important agility; but the mere fact that the horse is well- 
balanced at collected gaits does not mean that he will automatically have 
as good balance when moving free. This is the glaring mistake in the 
passage which I have quoted from my first book which, as a matter of 
fact, only repeated the then popular conceptions. 



THE SEARCH FOR BALANCE 35 

The correct, intelligent understanding of the horse's balance in motion 
is very well expressed in the Fort Riley Cavalry School's manual HORSE- 
MANSHIP AND HORSEMASTERSHIP, 1945 edition; in essence it says: 

"Theoretically, movement is determined by the various positions of the 
center of gravity with respect to the base of support. In the state of rest 
the center of gravity is sustained by that base. Movement is but dis- 
turbance of that equilibrium, the members intervening to steady the mass 
and prevent a fall." (page 207) Italics are mine. 

On page 208 we find the following axioms: 

1) "With rare exceptions, as soon as the horse is mounted, the natural 
equilibrium is disturbed by the rider's weight." 

2) ". . . the voluntary or involuntary actions of the aids provoke 
numerous contractions so that a part of the horse's muscular power is 
employed in resisting the rider . . . the less the horse resists his rider, the 
better he can balance himself." 

3) ". . . at the beginning of his training the horse must be allowed 
great liberty for if his movements are restricted he will be unable to re- 
cover his balance." (Italics are mine). 

Whenever in this book you come across the terms "Forward Balance" 
or "Central Balance" they will merely refer to the average tendency. Pic- 
ture 11 shows a collected horse in motion while Picture 12 is of a free 
moving horse. 

Along with all this, the fact should be underlined that the horse in 
motion uses his neck and head as a balancer in a similar manner to the 
way we humans use our arms. These balancing gestures of the neck can 
be effective only if the rider allows his horse to keep the neck and head 
extended and follows their motion with his arms. If the neck is raised and 
is kept up, while the chin is brought in, as in collection, then the horse, 
deprived of his balancer, finds himself in the situation of a man who runs 
with his hands in his pockets. Picture 13 illustrates the use of the neck 
and head on the jump. The extreme use of the neck on this jump is the 
result of the take-off being too close to the fence. 

Clear as all this is, the fact that the horse's balance is fluid, that his 
motion is really based on a repeatedly lost equilibrium which is con- 
stantly recaptured by legs acting as supports, assisted by the balancing 
gestures of the neck and head, I didn't grasp fully until about 1930. Up 
to then my method of riding and teaching was as indefinite as my under- 
standing of what balance is. 

When today you hear an intelligent trainer say that the balance of a 
certain horse needs to be improved, it doesn't mean that he intends to 
force the horse, with his legs and hands, into a certain attitude and make 
him keep it while moving. It means something very different. To better 
the horse's balance the trainer has to develop his strength, agility and 
freedom in the use of the neck and head (through schooling exercises) 
to the point where/under the rider, the horse will be able to repeatedly 



36 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

restore that equilibrium which is constantly disturbed in producing move- 
ment. I wish you would read this paragraph once more. 

On a correct understanding of the horse's balance in motion is largely 
based the contemporary method of schooling, controlling and sitting 
hacks, hunters and jumpers. We shall revert to this matter many times in 
the course of this book but if you would like to have an example im- 
mediately, here it is: if you should decide that, let's say, your hunter 
should be allowed to move balancing himself in a natural way (average 
forward balance) then, to be united with your horse, you will have to 
accept a forward seat. This, of course, is obvious, but perhaps this one 
example is not enough, so here is another one: a horse approaching an 
obstacle quietly and freely makes an extra extension of the neck and 
head about one stride before the jump. One of the reasons for this gesture 
seems to be the preparation for several balancing gestures during the 
jump, and the rider should allow him the freedom to make it. But if your 
horse approaches the jump excitedly, probably due to bad schooling and 
bad previous riding, and you have to hold him back, then, by doing so 
you will interfere with his natural balance on the jump. In such a case 
if you wish to insist upon "good riding" you have to reschool the horse. 
While schooling green, unspoiled horses is easy, reclaiming incorrectly- 
going ones is a long and tedious job which is rarely one hundred per cent 
successful. In view of this fact I should really recommend your getting 
rid of the horse, and I don't do it merely because I can see how many of 
my readers have open jumpers which, rushing and pulling, win regularly, 
while others have hunters, which hanging on their hands and galloping 
and jumping stiffly, have carried them safely for years after hounds. Hence 
the question should arise in the minds of these readers "why should we 
change our horses and method of riding when we get such pleasure from 
what we own and practice today?" I think that all those who are satisfied 
with their achievements should, of course, not even think of changing; 
but the others for whom a ribbon does not mean much may want to ride 
better. I belong to the latter category and as long as part of this book is 
about myself, I think I should state my beliefs. Here they are: 

1) It pleases me to have a happy horse under me. An upset, tense 
animal never gives me pleasure, no matter how high he jumps or how 
fast he gallops. 

2) In the course of years of observing and riding horses I have arrived 
at an appreciation of the beauty of natural, relaxed movements. A horse 
which has lost these, due to some quack method of schooling or riding, 
is disturbing to my eye and feelings, 

3) I appreciate the fact that good schooling, being the physical educa- 
tion of a horse, develops athletes, and the plastic qualities of an athletic 
performance are to me a source of great pleasure. I am sincerely bored 
to watch a horse clearing, let us say, a 5' obstacle on the strength of his 
natural abilities, but with the efforts of a country bumpkin. 



THE SEARCH FOR BALANCE 37 

I am fond of beauty in this life in general and to me a graceful, athletic 
performance means much more than a merely winning one. When these 
two qualities are combined, as in the case of Colonel F. F. Wing (U.S.A.) 
riding Democrat, as well as other horses of his, then I really have the 
time of my life watching them. 

4) My years of experience in making horses and riders have persuaded 
me that the majority of both perform at their best on the principles to 
which this book is dedicated (a free, forward movement). But I also know 
that there are innumerable exceptions. 

5) Long ago it became obvious to me that all lovers of horses should 
promote sound riding-education in the United States. This, today 
mechanically-minded country, furnishes many young riders who, with 
little appreciation of the horse as a living creature and with a strong 
competitive spirit, will try to be first in any field of riding and at any 
cost to the horse; a sportsman is not necessarily a horseman. By riding 
education I do not mean merely learning how to keep the heels down or 
how to start a canter on the right lead. I am primarily referring to a 
certain horseman's philosophy of riding and a horseman's understanding 
and appreciation of the horse, that is, both of the mechanics of his body 
and the nature of his character. 

To finish with the story of natural balance, a few paragraphs should 
be added on collected gaits in today's cross-country riding. 

Observing free horses in the field one notices that when quiet the horse 
maintains an extended attitude and hence moves with long, flat, efficient 
strides, but when excited he changes this "forward balance" to a "central" 
one by shifting some weight to the hindquarters. As a result of this 
collected attitude the action becomes high, inefficient (from the point of 
the relationship of energy consumed to progress forward), but poised 
and graceful. If a horse's ordinary movements can be compared with the 
human walk and run, then the collected gaits resemble the dance. It is 
rather common to observe a free excited horse doing Passage and even 
a few steps of Piaffe. Obviously both ordinary and collected movements 
and corresponding "forward balance" and '"central balance" are natural 
to the horse, each of them expressive of a certain emotional state. Dres- 
sage, as a special game, primarily concerns itself with emotionally stimu- 
lated movements of the horse, while any sensible trainer of a cross-country 
horse hopes that eventually his ^pupil will carry him across the fields 
and over fences in exactly the way he would do it by himself when free 
and quiet. 

Of course a free horse, when tired or lazy or half-asleep from boredom, 
will hold the neck forward and down and move with awkward, unfirm 
steps. The same horse when alert will move holding the neck and head 
extended forward and somewhat raised, 45 degrees or less, depending 
on his conformation. This last attitude is the one which we wish to dupli- 
cate in cross-country riding and jumping. 



38 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

This understanding of two kinds of natural balance in the horse 1 
included in my little book for beginners, RIDING FORWARD, published in 
1934. On the basis of this understanding is built the METHOD of riding 
hacks, hunters and jumpers which I teach and which aims to reproduce 
under the saddle the horse's natural way of going. The fundamental 
points of my method are: 

1) SCHOOLING must restore in the mounted horse his natural bal- 
ance and way of going, those which he would instinctively use when free, 
quiet and alert. 

2) CONTROL should be complimentary to the results of schooling, 
and promote efficient movement. Which means that, at least most of 
the time, the rider must allow the horse to move freely (on light contact) 
with neck and head extended, not interfering with his natural balancing 
efforts of the body and gestures of the neck. 

3) THE SEAT must unite the rider and the horse, interfering as little 
as possible with the horse's efforts to balance himself. It should not 
abuse the horse and must give the horse an opportunity to move almost 
as if free. 

This method, as any other method, will work at its best only if its 
three parts schooling, control and seat are harmoniously combined. 

My life as a professional in New York City didn't start in a well-defined 
manner. At first my own riding occupied as much time as my teaching 
and I even tried hitting the polo ball, which was obviously not in my 
line. But soon it became clear that it was humanly impossible to be good 
in any one thing while trying to do everything. 

I myself was taught in the army with a great deal of shouting, by being 
locked up for a few hours if I rode badly, and by an extra-long driving 
whip which, if it landed on my back, would always be accompanied by the 
gentle remark of my teacher "I beg your pardon I meant the horse/' 
The virtue of these lessons was that I didn't have to pay for them. 

The problem of teaching Americans without a whip and without lock- 
ing them up was very intriguing, and the fact that people were willing to 
pay five dollars an hour for being shouted at was too good to be true. And 
so I became a teacher and for the last twenty years all my efforts have 
been concentrated in this direction. 



CHAPTER IV 

Crystallising a Method 

At a superficial glance the United States in the twenties would seem 
to offer unlimited opportunities for a riding teacher with a decent eques- 
trian education; in this era of prosperity the popularity of riding was 
mounting by leaps and bounds. At the same time merely a dozen or so 
of Russian cavalry officers, who had come here after the revolution, and 
another dozen or perhaps two of intelligent riding teachers of different 
nationalities were all that were good on the market; the average "riding 
master's" knowledge was very elementary. A common sight in Central 
Park was such a "master" riding next to his pupil, trying to teach him 
to post by lifting him up by the elbow. Unfortunately for us, the public 
was so used to such methods that when I, with my friends, opened a riding 
school in New York, we often had to persuade our pupils that beginners 
learn faster and better in a ring. 

On the whole it seemed that there should be practically no competition. 
But it came, fast enough, and from an absolutely unexpected source; we 
soon realized that success in the riding business depended almost ex- 
clusively on the personality of the teacher, while his knowledge and abili- 
ties were less important factors. All over the country in "riding academies" 
sat little gods, blessed with forceful and winning characters, whose pupils 
would swear by their varied and fanciful riding ideas. This ignorance on 
the part of the public, of course, could be explained as natural, due to 
the lack of a tradition of educated riding like that which for generations 
had existed in Europe; but understanding this didn't make things easier 
for us. 

Being a teacher didn't consist merely in teaching a rational method 
well; it was also a struggle to persuade your potential and even actual 
pupils that the quite standard method which you taught would enable 
them to hunt or to win ribbons in the horse shows. How would they 
know it? And their arguments would run along the simplest and hence 
most discouraging lines; something like this: "In my town there is a 
fellow who teaches one to hold the legs forward and not back as you 
do, but he certainly makes fine riders. The other day his pupils won 
most of the ribbons in our show." And it was of no use to point out the 
possibility that it might have been the case of the soldier who received a 
medal for being the last to run away from the battlefield. "They won; 
didn't they?" Practical Americans were satisfied with practical results. 

Horse shows, by the way, were rarely any help from a teaching point 

39 



40 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

of view. Since they were a combination of sport, social activity and 
popular entertainment, and their existence largely depended on their 
financial success, they could hardly assume the role of leaders in the 
promotion of new riding ideas; obviously they had to cater to the 
majority. It would be unreasonable to expect that horse shows would be 
in the forefront of education, but the fact that every show includes classes 
for junior riders, the majority of whom were prepared for these com- 
petitions by riding teachers, gives the impression that the Horse Show 
is a supreme court. At all events, this is how many parents and children 
feel about it. 

On the other hand, the horse show was quite a help from the busi- 
ness point of view. Every horse show increased the activity in all the 
local riding schools; people who otherwise wouldn't have taken lessons 
at all would take them in anticipation of the competition, and a winning 
pupil was good publicity for the teacher. I remember how the school 
which I helped found advertised one autumn that in the course of the past 
summer our pupils had won several hundred ribbons; and this, naturally, 
brought us quite a bit of new business. 

On rereading the last two paragraph in 1962 I find that much of their 
content already belongs to history, and only as such am I leaving them 
in the text; they may serve as a reminder of the progress riding has 
recently made. Man's memory is short and we are apt to forget the past. 

In the course of the thirteen years since the original edition of this 
book was written the standards of horse shows have steadily risen. Today 
the level of riding in horsemanship classes is really high at least in big 
shows. And judging has improved at the same time. True enough, one 
still finds judges with old-fashioned points of view who favor the dressage 
position on the flat and like to see horses move with necks high and 
chins in, even in Hunting Seat Equitation classes, but many others have a 
more educated approach to riding. In any case, in the Rule Book of the 
American Horse Show Association the position required in such classes 
is now described even if incompletely, which is, just the same, a great 
advance. 

So, in the course of thirty-five years, the American horse show has 
made substantial progress,. On the one hand, this has been due 
to the improvement in the standards of teaching riding and the con- 
sequent generally raised level of riding, and corresponding require- 
ments of the participants. On the other hand it has been due to new 
rules (in open jumping, for instance) passed by the American Horse Show 
Association under the beneficial influence of the International Equestrian 
Federation. Judging by the fact that in some cases these new "rules were 
objected to by regular exhibitors, it seems that here and there the Ameri- 
can Horse Show Association was even making an attempt to take the lead. 

One of the important factors in raising standards of the horse show was 
the appearance of international army teams in Madison Square Garden, 



CRYSTALLIZING A METHOD 41 

as well as in some other shows. In fact, it probably was one of the greatest 
contributions to the bettering of civilian riding. 

There is one thing that has always intrigued me about the horse 
show; that is that, in a country where jokes are made at the drop of a 
hat, I have never heard a single one about riders and horses in the arena. 
Someone tried to explain this phenomenon to me by the fact that to 
many of the people involved it is a serious business; but it is about busi- 
ness that many American jokes are made. And when you think that 
anecdotes of the hunting field abound, then their absence concerning the 
show is baffling. And perhaps this lack of a sense of humor is in part 
responsible for some of the less attractive human aspects of the horse show. 

It was difficult enough to teach an internationally-accepted method. To 
change, incorporating new ideas into your teaching, was a Herculean task; 
even one's own pupils resented it. I can think of several cases when my 
best pupils, and personal friends to boot, refused to go ahead with me 
and insisted on adhering to what I had taught them originally. Only those 
of us who were idealistic, ambitious, and had nerve, dared to be among 
the first in following the new theories. The majority of instructors just 
couldn't make head or tail of what was happening in the intelligent riding 
world; some understood, but were afraid that to change would hurt their 
business. So progress was bound to proceed at a snail's pace. What was 
done during a quarter of a century in riding would have been accom- 
plished in three years in the automobile industry. This comparison is 
not completely fair, but it illustrates the fact that the slogan "Bigger 
and Better" does not apply to riding. 

Occasionally during the course of the last thirty-five years a letter to 
the editor or a short article would appear in equestrian magazines sug- 
gesting the necessity of an organization which would certify riding 
teachers. I lost count of my own efforts to promote such a move 
and hence it gave me great pleasure to learn, in 1947, that the 
National Section on Women's Athletics of the American Association 
for Health, Physical Education and Recreation had begun to work in this 
direction by establishing standards for teaching riding in colleges and 
girls' schools, and by giving courses to riding teachers who are on physi- 
cal education staffs, and rating them on the basis of an examination in 
riding and aft examination in theory. I think this is one of the most 
significant events which has occurred during my teaching life, and the 
fact that a good many in the group which initiated the movement are 
my former pupils, of course, delights me. 

Since this movement originated I have been working with this out- 
standingly intelligent and progressive group of teachers, mostly gradu- 
ates of women's colleges. I have conducted some of their week-long courses 
for riding teachers and helped with their meets which they call "clinics." 
Each one of these clinics, which lasts one or two days, has a dominant 
theme such as, for instance, position in jumping. Every teacher brings a 



42 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

coupie of pupils who ride for a few minutes and their good and bad points 
are discussed by the teachers; then remedies to correct defects are sug- 
gested and the efficiency of the proposed cure is immediately tried out. 
The last such clinic that I took part in had an attendance of approxi- 
mately 80 people, all dressed to mount and practically all of them knew 
what they were doing. The consistency of knowledge, theoretical and 
practical, was most impressive and I never before met a group with 
such high standards. I believe this movement deserves the enthusiastic 
support of every idealistic horseman. 

A big obstacle on the road to progress was, and still is, the fact that 
riding is a touchy subject; somehow it takes a special effort to admit that 
one's riding is bad. It is particularly so in the case of one born in a 
family of long riding standing. It seems that in such instances to admit 
one's deficiencies in the saddle is almost equal to a confession that one is 
not a gentleman. Perhaps this is the reason for a peculiar phenomenon: 
as an inaccurate generalization, one may say that the richer the family 
and the longer its association with horses, the less the chances of finding 
open minds among its members. In general, riding circles are full of in- 
hibitions: I have actually known people whose sincere riding ambition 
was to look in the saddle like an English fox-hunter in a colored print of 
1820. There are many riding groups, scattered all over the country, which 
have decided a priori that no one can teach them anything. I could 
never figure out whether it is a sincere belief or a protective screen behind 
which they can bolster up their egos. 

Probably the greatest difficulty that the riding teacher faced in my 
active days was that general reluctance to study and work which created 
the term "natural rider/ 1 When using this expression people didn't 
mean to imply that they were speaking of a person with special abilities 
to which only knowledge needed to be added to make him a great horse- 
man. Not at all. This term indicates a person who, without ever taking 
lessons, or reading a book, but merely through years in the saddle and 
with the help of providence, has become a "superb rider." All over the 
country you hear about these "natural riders" and it takes nothing short 
of an attempt to organize a civilian Olympic Games team to realize how 
really few riders we have on an international level. Those who maintain 
that experience is everything in life forget somehow that someone who 
ate all his life is not necessarily a connoisseur of food. 

Nearly all my pupils took lessons in the hope that very soon they 
would reach a point where they could at last participate in one mounted 
game or another; whether they were really good or not didn't matter. 
Once a pupil told me that instead of paying me five dollars a lesson he 
would much rather give me five thousand dollars cash if I could make a 
magic which would cause him to wake up the next morning a good 
rider. It was obvious that the slow, thorough army method to which I 
was accustomed had to be abolished and a new one, both rapid and 



CRYSTALLIZING A METHOD 43 

practically efficient, had to be created. Everything was pointing toward 
the necessity of simplifying the principles of artistic riding, and stream- 
lining the method of teaching. The problems were: 1) how to do it while 
preserving the essentials of good riding, and 2) what the essence of the 
approach to the education of the pupil should be. Unexpectedly I was 
given a clue. 

In 1931 my second book, JUMPING THE HORSE, was published; and 
among the reviews there was one uncomplimentary one which appeared 
in Polo. In part it read: ". . . in brief, it presents this thesis; don't try 
to play tennis the way Tilden does it, because you cannot; don't pay any 
attention to Bobby Jones because you couldn't possibly hit a ball the way 
he does. Or, to come right down to it, don't bother to try to go over 
obstacles the way Major Harry Chamberlin does, because you never will 
be able to anyway; just leave the reins loose enough so that the horse will 
do the work, without interference from you. . . /' 

There was the answer to my problem. Less than one per cent of my 
pupils may have the riding genius of Major Harry Chamberlin,* and 
very few of them will ever devote as many hours a day, and as many 
years of such days/ to riding and thinking about riding as he did; a few 
of them may be professionals but the majority will be bankers and 
lawyers and business men, and their wives and daughters who, in their 
turn, will marry doctors and lawyers. Of course it is foolish to try to 
teach them to ride the way men who devote their lives to riding do. For 
most of my pupils riding is merely a relaxation and I just have to make 
them ride efficiently and without abusing their horses on the trails, in 
the hunting field, in the horse shows etc. What was said in JUMPING THE 
HORSE was perhaps too simple for Polo, but was too complicated for 
hundreds of my pupils, young and old, fat and lean, brave and fright- 
ened. This is how my work lost its abstract aspects and acquired the 
tendency to adjust sound riding ideas to contemporary life. 

Frankly, I am a riding enthusiast and perfectionist by nature; hence 
my instincts were, for a long time anyway, in opposition to the practi- 
calities of life. Little by little I have trained myself to look upon teach- 
ing riding from the point of view of popular requirements. Eventually I 
found out that the work toward raising the standards of riding within 
practical limits and creating a new, efficient method of teaching it are 
tremendous fields for the application of one's enthusiasm for horses and 
riding. In conceiving my method, my train of thought was something 
like this: 

1) A certain number of my pupils merely wanted to learn to hack. 
These people usually were not interested in the art of riding; they loved 
horses, enjoyed being outdoors in the saddle and that was about all. Any 

* At the time of his death Harry D. Chamberlin was a Brigadier General. His various 
ranks in this book coincide with his rank at the time when mentioned. This is true 
of other officers mentioned. 



44 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

technique of fine riding was of no interest to them and of no practical 
value particularly if they had quiet horses. Obviously, torturing these 
people by trying to teach them such things as the flexing of the horse's 
mouth would be absurd. What they needed was merely a decent seat 
and a knowledge of elementary but effective control. 

Perhaps some of these people, particularly those who hack regularly 
and own fine horses, could be persuaded to learn more about riding and 
would enjoy it. So for these a method could be devised, more refined than 
the elementary one, but still without the finesses of artistic riding, and it 
could legitimately be called intermediate control. 

2) The majority of my pupils wanted to hunt and to show. For hunt- 
ing well and for showing hunters and jumpers successfully a knowledge 
of control at least on the intermediate level is imperative. Furthermore, 
for these two games the rider's seat must be really strong and easy on the 
horse. 

It is true that a great deal of hunting is actually done on the basis of 
elementary control with some individual refinements added. If this is 
done by people who have a strong physique, lots of nerve and a knack of 
controlling the horse quickly and if necessary forcibly, they may hunt in 
this primitive manner for years without any mishap. But even if they are 
satisfied, their horses rarely are and so here, I think, an attempt should 
be made to raise the standards of riding without bringing in the artistic 
side of it. The intermediate level of control must fit better hunting and 
better showing; it also must enable a rider to school, in a simple way, a 
hack, hunter or jumper. 

Thus the intermediate control as an efficient way of riding and school- 
ing hacks, hunters and jumpers should be the main part of my method. 

3) A certain, comparatively small, number of my pupils were real horse- 
men at heart. Whether hacking, hunting or jumping, they were always 
interested in the quality of the horse's performance; good movement was 
a real joy to them. So, for these people I should add to intermediate 
control the knowledge which is necessary to obtain movement of a high 
quality from a schooled horse, or to develop it in a green one. Riding and 
schooling horses on this level could be called advanced riding. 

In developing the method of advanced riding I should still have in 
mind hunters and jumpers and keep the method free from all the curli- 
cues of manege riding. 

In Chapter VII there is a table which compares the elementary, 
intermediate and advanced controls as I later conceived them. For the 
time being the big question was what I could change immediately in the 
general principles of my actual method of riding and teaching in order 
to increase the efficiency of my lessons and to satisfy the practical aspira- 
tions of the majority of my pupils. 

This is how I solved this question: 



CRYSTALLIZING A METHOD 45 

1) The balance of the horse. Most horses perform at their best when 
allowed to go freely. They also are easiest to control when moving forward 
naturally, because then they offer less resistance. Therefore rny method 
should be based on the principle of free movement. Collection should be 
reserved only for sparing and judicial use as an exercise, only by those who 
are very able and are interested in schooling horses on advanced level. 
Only a method which is based on a freely moving horse can be practical 
for the multitude. Collection used indiscriminately results in abuse of 
horses; soft collection is really difficult to achieve. 

What I have just said about collection would be anathema to any 19th 
century rider, but today I am far from being alone in my estimate of it. 
To illustrate this, let me quote from TRAINING HUNTERS, JUMPERS AND 
HACKS by Lt. Col. Harry D. Chamberlin (English edt., 1946, page 59): 

"As has been indicated, high collection should be undertaken only by 
finished horsemen. The periods of collection should be very brief and 
it should be thoroughly realized that all preceding work, done for the 
purpose of producing calmness through developing a natural head car- 
riage, may be quickly nullified by an inexperienced rider in his efforts to 
obtain a higher head carriage, more flexion and collection. As a matter 
of fact many experienced riders, in their efforts to proceed too far in collec- 
tion and high-schooling succeed in inculcating nothing more than irrita- 
bility, nervousness, and inability to jump or gallop fast across country/' 

In nature the horse collects himself only when excited and only for 
short periods of time. He is not made for moving at collected gaits fast or 
for a great length of time and this is the main reason why a hunter or 
a jumper performs better and remains calmer if allowed to move the way 
he was made to move at speed and for great distances; that is, holding 
himself in an extended attitude. 

2) The Seat. The Forward Seat unites the rider with a forward moving 
horse. It is fortunate that the most rational seat the Forward Seat- 
is the easiest to learn. So I must stop teaching the Dressage Seat, even for 
slow movements. And if I am to discontinue the Dressage Seat then I can 
probably cut down on its fundamental exercise the sitting trot with and, 
particularly, without stirrups. Later I learned that a good Forward Seat 
could be taught with a negligible use of the sitting trot. 

Some of the finer points of the Forward Seat could be simplified. For 
instance: following the horse's neck and head on the jump, moving the 
arms forward through the air, is only for the able riders who jump almost 
daily. It is silly to try to teach such fine points to those who ride three 
hours a week and are not in perfect physical shape. For them, horses must 
be taught to jump on loose reins (which is easy) and the riders must move 
their hands forward, placing them on the horse's neck, thus giving yet 
more room to the horse's neck to stretch, and getting additional balancing 



46 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

support for themselves. Using this method I can considerably accelerate 
the preparation of my pupils for the hunting field and for the horse show. 
3) Control* The use of the aids and all the movements of Intermediate 
and Advanced control can be simplified. Such simplification may diminish 
the finesse of the movement but must preserve its essential values. This 
wasn't hard to do. Here is an example: (the first quotation is taken from 
a well-known contemporary manual): 

". . if it is desired to turn the haunches from left to right, the weight 
of the mass must first be placed on the shoulders by closing the legs and 
relaxing the fingers until the movement forward becomes imminent. The 
center of gravity is then prevented from further forward displacement and 
the weight is carried on the left shoulder by closing the fingers on the right 
indirect rein of opposition in front of withers and on the left direct rein, 
care being exercised to hold the head and neck in the direction of the 
axis of the horse. While this is taking place, the left leg is moved a little 
in rear of the girth to displace the haunches to the right. The right leg 
is closed on the girth to maintain the forward displacement of the center 
of gravity, to prevent the horse from backing and to stop the displacement 
of the haunches to the right when desired. The seat is carried to the right 
to facilitate displacement of the haunches." 

A corresponding part of the description of the same turn, only to the 
left instead of to the right, in my last book BE A BETTER HORSEMAN, pub- 
lished in 1941, reads as follows (page 161): 

"To rotate the quarters to the left the rider takes his right leg back and 
with it pushes the quarters to the left while his hands are merely watching 
that the horse does not step forward from the urging of the leg. 

"It might happen that sometimes from the action of the right leg the 
horse, while rotating the quarters to the left, will make a step to the left 
with the whole body; very often this is nothing but a sign of poor balance. 
It should be avoided, for only if done in place is the exercise beneficial. 
In order to prevent this movement the rider should close in his left leg 
before the right one begins to act. The action of this leg (the left one in 
this case) regulates and, if necessary, stops the rotation." 

I am inclined to believe that the artistic aims embodied in the first 
quotation are more apt to discourage than encourage the majority of 
civilian riders. 

Furthermore, I believe that certain points of artistic riding, like al- 
ways riding "on the bit," the "half-halts," "full collection" and some 
others should be preserved only for unusually good riders schooling ex- 

* The definitions of Elementary, Intermediate and Advanced control are given in 
Chapter VII. 



CRYSTALLIZING A METHOD 47 

ceptionally able horses and taking time at it. In the hands of the majority, 
attempts to attain the above result in abuse of the horse and, instead of 
contributing anything for hunting and jumping, are detrimental to both 
of these games. For efficient riding by the majority a merely "soft contact" 
most of the time, loose reins part of the time, and always a freely going 
horse (if calm and obedient) is much more sensible. 

4) Schooling. The schooling of hunters and jumpers can also be con- 
siderably simplified by comparison with the highly artistic methods de- 
scribed in some books while still producing better horses than the average. 

5) The ideal Adjusting one's teaching to contemporary possibilities 
made it, of course, necessary to establish at the same time an ideal which 
would be attainable at least within the course of a generation. Choosing 
this ideal was simple; the Three-Day-Event competition of the Olympic 
Games embodied it all. It contains schooling for hacks, hunters and jump- 
ers, riding cross-country with negotiation of varied, trappy obstacles and 
arena jumping. Furthermore, it could always be simplified to adjust it 
to local needs; the training test should be also modernized (I shall devote 
a chapter to this). Since the original edition of this book was written I 
have further modernized the formula of the Three Day Event so as to 
make it yet more practical for the American amateur of today. In this 
revised edition it is described under the title of The Complete Test for 
Hunters. It seems to me that it is more realistically constructed than the 
so-called Horse Trials of the Combined Training Test, which are much 
closer to the original Three Day Event, with the latter' s Dressage type 
of test. 

6) Teaching. Teaching should be systematized. The last minute snap 
decisions on what a particular lesson should be about must be replaced by 
a logically constructed course. Naturally such a course should be flexible 
enough to consider the individual characteristics of the riders and horses 
involved. The course of teaching must have three main parts: teaching 
position, teaching control and teaching schooling. 

7) Theory. Theory must be presented in such a way that the pupil is 
forced into thinking; it should not merely consist in memorizing facts. A 
humane attitude toward the horse must be stressed. 

When, in the ensuing years, I succeeded in putting the above plan into 
practice I possessed a method all my own. The component parts of this 
system were not new; it was the arrangement and the manner of using 
them which distinguished this method from others. Its efficiency has been 
proven to me by long practice. 

Looking over my plan, you will see that it was not a popular "short- 
cut"; it was, rather, an adjustment of the technique of artistic riding to 
practical conditions. There was nothing vulgar in it. But what was the use 



48 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

of discussing how a perfect turn on the haunches should be made when 
the real problem was to persuade the riding public to make such a turn 
at all? The love of working for hours on details is not an American charac- 
teristic, but it seemed that attempts to convince the public that schooling 
movements, such as a decent turn on the haunches, were valuable exercises 
for both riders and horses could be successful. And in the spirit of a sin- 
cerely impartial observer, I would like to say that my best pupils, both 
human and equine, could easily have competed with the performances 
in the Three-Day-Event training test of the Olympic Games which I wit- 
nessed in England in 1948. This merely means that putting into practice 
little finesses of riding is not such an easy task even for the Olympic riders. 

But, simple as was the course charted by my ideal, it was a struggle to 
make the majority accept it. For instance, a number of types of resistance 
were expressed by one word "impractical/' Naturally, for those who ride 
once or twice a week anything above very simple aims is impractical; so 
in conceiving the final ideal, I had primarily in view those who rode 
regularly and had their own horses. Of these, many hunting circles in par- 
ticular, resented schooling and seemed to glory in the excitement of hunt- 
ing green horses. It was of no use to try to point out that the performance 
hardly could be good or the sensation pleasant; it seemed that the satis- 
faction of such an experience lay in the feeling it gave one of being real 
he-man. And probably this sensation is responsible for the attitude of 
many young men who consider anything short of steeplechasing a "sissy 
game;" this is one of the reasons why the majority of our riders and many 
of the best of them are women. But it is the result of other reasons as well; 
on the whole women have more feeling for animals, are gentler, have less 
of the spirit of brutal conquest and, instead, possess more ingenuity to 
solve a problem by indirect means; and, speaking of amateurs, they have 
in general more time to devote to riding. 

There cannot be any argument that the results of schooling are practical 
for both the hunting field and the horse show ring. A schooled horse is 
safer and performs better so that the impractical part may consist only in 
the time required for schooling. Some people may really be short of it, 
but many of those whom I know among the hunting and horse show 
groups have the time. And if they don't school their horses the actual 
reasons are different. -I think it all goes back to an unhorsemanlike atti- 
tude, and to the fact that Americans are not much interested in theory; 
under these conditions a horse cannot be schooled. As a matter of fact, 
some of the methods of riding which are popularly taught today in this 
country are so devoid of any theory that they are really completely imprac- 
tical. They may be considered practical only if one doesn't mind making 
a fool of himself, breaking his neck or crippling his horse. 

The word "practical" was sometimes used so unthinkingly that I have 
heard people say that preoccupation with Dressage is impractical, while 




by Bert Clark Thayer 

Pic. 12. Shows an energetic ordinary trot which is efficient because all the energy 
is used to cover ground; there is a minimum of upward action. (The rider 

Mr. George Hoblin). 




Pic. 13. The above picture shows a balancing gesture too great for this height 

of fence; it was necessitated by too close a take-off. The completely relaxed hands 

and arms of the rider maintain soft contact with the horse's mouth, and follow 

the fires ture of the neck and head. 



CRYSTALLIZING A METHOD 49 

hunting Is a practical type of riding. It would seem that the simple, realis- 
tic idea that in our day and in our country the cowboy is one of the few 
riders who uses a horse for practical purposes, while the rest of us, whether 
practicing Dressage or hunting, do it just for pleasure, never occurs to 
some people. Dressage or the horse show or hunting are merely different 
games. Certainly there is one practical aspect to hunting, polo, and horse 
shows today in the United States, just as there used to be to musical rides, 
but it's of a purely social character. They are group games; they may even 
be part of a certain kind of community life, that of the "set;" while ad- 
vanced, classical Dressage is essentially a solitary art. As such, it carries the 
taint of "impracticality" with which many solitary arts or hobbies are re- 
garded in contemporary America. Ordinarily people ride to chase a ball 
or a fox, to see western scenery; some do it to flirt; all do it to get together 
and a teacher of pure riding, riding for riding's sake, often finds its dis- 
couraging. There are individuals who appreciate the pleasure of riding 
a well-schooled horse, do the schooling themselves, and then show or hunt, 
whatever the occasion may be, deriving great satisfaction out of the horse's 
performance under varied and often difficult conditions. These are the 
people who make a teacher's life worth while. I have been lucky enough 
to know many such, both in the horse show and in the hunting field. 

There was another expression commonly used and which was trouble- 
some: "I want to ride for pleasure only/' Of course I understood that 
this was just a form of expressing one's humble aims, of saying that one 
wants merely to hack, perhaps occasionally to hunt. But somehow, it also 
implied, in many cases, that the fellow who schools horses doesn't derive 
any pleasure from it; he is just working. And sometimes it was hard 
to explain that tastes differ, that some people prefer bridge to pinochle 
and that many loving, let us say, Dressage or horse show jumping, are 
bored with hacking or hunting. This "riding for pleasure" was one of 
many protective screens, all of which were genteel substitutes for a really 
rather unpleasant admission "I am not interested in riding well/* 

Negligible as was the harm done by any single one of these misused 
terms, the quantity of them was such that altogether they added up to 
a great deal. For instance, the way in which another two words were regu- 
larly employed expressed the confused state of mind of the riding world; 
these were "equitation" and "dressage." Webster's dictionary defines 
"equitation" as "the act or art of riding; horsemanship." Which means 
that jumping, for instance, is equitation. However, here and now under 
equitation is usually understood a competition in which juniors only par- 
ticipate and during which the rider, besides showing his riding ability 
at gaits, is required to perform simple movements, such as a figure of eight, 
change of leads and backing. Instead of calling this elementary or inter- 
mediate riding or elementary schooling we call it equitation and by doing 
so separate it from the rest of riding. Some sort of psychological process 



50 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

sets up and results in the conclusion that changes of leads or really good 
turning have nothing to do with cross-country riding or jumping; they are 
something special "equitation." 

The confusion over Dressage, today in 1962, when I am inserting the 
following, is much more than a question of terminology it is also one 
of practice. While in this chapter I have described how I began to 
abandon Dressage (on which I was brought up) as unnecessary to the 
schooling of hunters and jumpers, other people today, some of whom 
never practiced it previously, have taken it up for this very purpose. 
Because of this I feel it essential to discuss the subject at length. 

It is not for the first time that the French word, Dressage, is used in 
the English-speaking world. The few 17th century English horsemen, 
like the Duke of Newcastle, who were influenced by Continental riding, 
employed the term in the form of "dressing horses/' It is also to be met 
with even in early 19th century literature. It later went out of vogue 
and has recently slipped back into the English language again, when 
some horsemen of the English-speaking nations have once more come 
under the sway of the European continent in matters of equitation. 

Accepting this term in a superficial manner, both the English and the 
Americans have missed the fact that the French themselves, advancing 
with the times, have come to distinguish between Dressage de Manege 
(ring schooling), which eventually may lead to High School (Dressage 
Academique), and Dressage Sportif (for sport), which is schooling for 
horses destined for cross-country riding or for jumping. The latter 
dressage is conceived under the Italian influence but, its method still 
being in process of formulation, it more often than not preserves some 
practices from the past, 

Today one often hears that the French word Dressage merely means 
schooling. This is correct. But do those people who prefer the French word 
dressage to the English word schooling use the first in referring to a cow- 
boy's schooling of a cutting horse, or to schooling a gaited horse, or 
to the early-morning, last-minute schooling over the outside course on 
the show grounds? Why not be consistent? A Frenchman would use 
the word dressage in all the cases cited; as a matter of fact, dressage 
d f obstacles that is schooling over fences is a standard French expres- 
sion. Those English-speaking people who insist that the French word 
dressage is equivalent to the English word schooling do not seem to 
practice what they preach. 

But another factor has influenced our use of the word: in the days 
before Caprilli, when there was only one basic system of schooling 
(manege schooling), the word dressage signified this and nothing else. 
At that time, variations were limited to individual interpretations of 
what was fundamentally the same method. But today, with two systems 
existing side by side, the logical French, who like to express themselves 
very accurately, define which kind of dressage they mean by adding 



CRYSTALLIZING A METHOD 51 

either the term de manege or the word sportif to it. Today in France 
the word dressage is used without a modifying adjective only in ref- 
erence to manege dressage, and this is why both competitions of the 
Olympic Games, the Dressage phase of the Three-Day-Event and the 
Grand Prix de Dressage are so termed. Both of these competitions 
represent fundamentally the same type of riding, but they are on two 
very different levels. What is it that relates them? Collection, of course. 
All educated riding in the past was based on collection (more or less of 
it), while the first thing Caprilii's revolution did was to abolish it. 
Today, in English, the word dressage really refers to a specific type of 
schooling on the flat, based on collection. If one insists on using the 
same word dressage to designate schooling of Gaprilli's type, the adjec- 
tive "sporting" should be added. Whether it is called this, or Forward 
Schooling or Natural Schooling., or by some entirely new name, does not 
matter; but the user of the term should know what he is talking about 
and make it clear to his listeners. 

Elementary Dressage, of which we hear so much today that is the 
elementary level of ring dressage is considered by some people to be 
practical basic training for hunters and jumpers. This is an inheritance 
from the days of the military horse, and if one's hunter or jumper was 
expected to be as versatile as the old-fashioned military horse, some 
schooling o'f this type might be necessary. In an age of little time on the 
one hand, and on the other of that narrow specialization which leads 
to high standards in competitions, the only really practical training is 
that directed toward the special end one has in view for a horse. 

Even the elementary level of ring dressage is based on collection, on 
giving the horse a central balance. This means moving with central 
balance, neck high and chin in. It is not only of little use to the hunter 
or jumper, but it will delay, if not actually impede, his acquisition of 
a good forward balance with stretched neck and long flat strides the 
balance at which he will ultimately be required to function. Efficient 
elementary schooling for any type of horse must be based on the type 
of balance at which he will be expected to perform (see text on balance). 

Some people who watch me teach movements like the half-turn on 
the haunches say with surprise, "So you teach Dressage!" Actually, the 
superficial similarity between Dressage and Forward Schooling is even 
greater than that both schools, for instance, make their horses walk, 
trot and canter! The difference between Dressagfc and Forward Schooling 
is not so much in the movements the horse is required to execute as 
in the manner and balance in which he executes them. 

Then why, despite this being simple enough to be common knowledge, 
do many American horsemen today use the real Dressage method of 
schooling inappropriately, for instance, for jumping, while others call 
any type of schooling by this name. 



52 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

It all started with the abolition of mounted cavalry and the resultant 
substitution of civilian international teams for the military ones. Thus 
the door was apparently opened for everyone to take part in the Olympic 
games. This promoted unprecedented interest in the latter, and in 
anything that might lead up to or be connected with them. Although 
practically no one aimed at competing in the big Dressage event, a lower 
level of Dressage still played a part in the Three-Day-Event; the U.S. 
Equestrian Team used some Dressage methods in training for the Prix 
des Nations, and the Pony Club introduced certain disconnected Dressage 
terms and practices. 

That was how it started. At present, however, the picture is much 
more complicated, and different people use the term Dressage for 
different reasons. Disregarding the pretentious use of this term by 
ignoramuses who wish to appear knowledgeable, we should first of all 
take into consideration those who sincerely believe that the old-fashioned 
type of ring schooling is helpful in making hunters and jumpers. Then 
there are others who wish to school their hunters and jumpers, but have 
neither experience nor reason to prefer one type of schooling to another. 
To these the word Dressage, as a foreign term still used in international 
competitions, carries a prestige which the plain English word Schooling 
does not. So it often happens that it is not the principles of Dressage 
but its associations and historical prestige that have encouraged the 
number of people who are working in different organizations to promote 
it. Many of these people will readily admit in private that they do not 
know the first thing about Dressage. Once the term Dressage became 
fashionable,, all those professionals who have no particular convictions 
and are in business just to make money, began either to teach Dressage 
or to pretend that they were teaching it. 

Still another element plays a role: in Forward Schooling the coopera- 
tion of the horse that is, a certain partnership between the horse and 
the rider plays an important role. Dressage, on the other hand, is 
based on the domination of the horse by the rider. The latter idea is 
more appealing to some people and they plunge into Dressage without 
realization either of the fine techniques such a method demands or the 
time consumed in developing these. 

If you look back on the American riding scene of, let us say, fifty 
years ago you will find that there was precious little educated schooling 
as we know it today. When Forward Riding appeared on this continent, 
a few years before the revival of Dressage, it had little trouble in selling 
the Forward Seat., which was a simple mechanical conception; any 
mounted pedestrian could understand its advantages for galloping and 
jumping. Forward Schooling, however, because it was more complicated, 
and because it involved thinking like a horseman, did not fare so well. 
As a matter of fact, Dressage has not yet taken hold either, in spite of 
the organized effort of several years to promote it. People are apt to 
find the routine of any type of schooling too tedious. 



CRYSTALLIZING A METHOD 53 

The simpler the schooling, the better chance it has of becoming pop- 
ular. This, of course, is why Forward Schooling has advantages over 
Dressage for helping to raise the standards of general riding. The col- 
lected gaits of Dressage have always been the stumbling block of most 
of those who mounted a horse. 

In order to keep Dressage competitions going they are continually 
being simplified; and in some of them even the corner stone of Dressage, 
collected gaits, have been abolished. The programs of such Dressage 
competitions resemble those of the Program Rides of the elementary 
level of Forward Schooling. If so, then it might be said that no harm is 
done and that we all pursue the principles of Forward Riding under 
different names. But, harm is actually done, to both the physical and 
the theoretical sides of riding. 

Take, for instance, the matter of the rider's position. In many in- 
stances, even where collected gaits are abolished, the riders are still 
required to use a Dressage Seat. In such cases, the horses thus move in 
Forward Balance, while the riders maintain a position which originally 
aimed to unite them with horses moving at collected gaits and in 
Central Balance; consequently these riders are behind their horses. This 
particular anomaly has even penetrated our regular horsemanship classes 
on the flat and has encouraged the unfortunate practice of sitting behind 
the horse in order to win. I know many good Forward Seat riders who 
have won their blue ribbons in this manner, feeling that they cleverly 
outwitted the judges. Such loss of judges' prestige is, of course, 
undesirable. 

In the second place, we should consider the mental confusion that 
has resulted from the promotion of an unfamiliar type of riding. I 
have before me one of the questionnaires of the United States Pony 
Club (published in 1959). In it I find, for instance, the following ques- 
tions and answers: 

1) "What is meant by 'collection? 

To have the horse in a state of proper balance. ..." 
Obviously in this case the central balance of collected gaits is taken 
as the only state of satisfactory balance which, of course, is completely Inac- 
curate. (See the text on "The Balance of the Horse in Motion.) After 
all, race horses usually remain upright without the help of collection. 

2) "When is a horse said to be *up to the bit? 

When his head and neck are in correct position (Direct flexion) . . /' 
And what about having the horse on the bit with extended neck 

and head, as winning working hunters approach fences? 

Such a questionnaire can hardly be considered helpful in educating 

our youth. 

But not all of the factors were on the debit side. For instance, practically 

all young people were showing the results of the modern emphasis on 

health and physical development and were strong, agile and bold. Enthu- 



54 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

siasm for the horse and riding which some of the girls possessed led them 
to choose riding as a profession after majoring in physical education. 
Without thinking twice, I could make a list of fifty such girls who teach 
riding and are in correspondence with me; while, looking through my 
files, I could easily give another fifty names of both women and men who 
are good teachers. If you were to consider that each such teacher influences 
on the average fifty pupils a year, the figure of five thousand pupils all 
told means quite a broad dissemination of sound ideas. And there must be 
quite a few good teachers of whom I have never heard. Negligible as these 
figures are, in comparison with the total number of riders and teachers 
in the United States, yet this result couldn't be achieved without the 
enthusiasm of some. Looking at this aspect of the scene in 1962 I find I 
must remark on the tremendously increased general popularity of riding 
and showing today. 

The equestrian magazines and book publishers were of tremendous help 
in the spreading of intelligent riding ideas, despite the fact that the peri- 
odicals, trying to stimulate interest through controversy, published as 
much worthless material as good, and that some of the book publishers 
quite naturally were looking for good business first. Just the same, a num- 
ber of sound books and articles, by different authors, have been published 
in the course of the last twenty-five years; so, all told, the printed word 
was one of the great allies of better riding. In this respect the Derrydale 
Press is particularly to be congratulated; Mr. Eugene V. Connett having 
a special flair for selecting books on riding, has soundly enriched many 
equestrian libraries. Some of his publications later appeared in popular 
editions, which is a sign of the growing demand. 

Some years ago my little book, RIDING FORWARD, was published by 
William Morrow 8c Co. and sold five thousand odd copies. Then much 
later it was reprinted in a $1.00 edition and in eight months I received 
royalties for twenty thousand copies. 

One could, of course, argue that the books could be better, for although 
the majority of them create the impression that they are written for the 
general public, in reality it is not so. Many of them fall in one of 
the following two categeries. The first group was written by great 
enthusiasts who, after devoting all their lives to riding and reaching 
very high levels of technical thinking, have described in great detail the 
finesse of riding. To the second group belong the books written by ama- 
teurs who, the moment they learn how to back a horse, have an irresistible 
urge to share this wonderful knowledge with the rest of the world. 

But nothing being perfect on this globe, one has to admit that many 
of the books published recently truly belong to the 20th century for, in 
one way or another, well or badly, competently or amateurishly, they 
discuss riding from the point of view of modern ideas. Comparatively few 
recent authors consistently think in the spirit of the past century but, on 



CRYSTALLIZING A METHOD 55 

the other hand, most of the modern books still contain vestiges of the old 
and, the longer ago they were published, naturally the more of them they 
have. A shelf of such books is an historical document on the progress of 
thinking in riding. Aiming to provoke thinking in my pupils I discuss 
opinions of other riders whenever the occasion presents itself during my 
lessons. The many quotations from different authors which I give in this 
book are merely an extension of this practice. 

Books, better teaching, the great increase in competitive riding and 
many other factors, large and small, working independently totaled up 
to the existing progress. 



CHAPTER V 

Troubles with the Forward Seat 



In the middle thirties an English team came to the National Show in 
Madison Square Garden. The positions in which the officers rode were not 
only most awkward and peculiar, but even grotesque, and the first evening 
Major X of one of the other army teams and myself were very amused 
watching them. But they made one clean round after another and Major 
X, who is, by the way, a very fine horseman, lost that evening. The same 
score more or less persisted night after night and finally he, who was 
laughing no longer, said to me that he was going to ask one of the English 
officers "why they sit so badly?" I remember the answer, word for word, 
as Major X passed it on to me. The English officer said: "We know that 
we do not sit very well but we are all very light and all our horses are 
very powerful; there is no need to change." I am telling this story to point 
out to you, before we begin to discuss the seat, that I personally don't 
put too much stress on it. I believe that the average rider sits more firmly, 
rides better, abuses his horse less and hence obtains a better performance 
from an average mount if he uses the Forward Seat correctly. But no truly 
great performance was ever achieved on a perfect seat alone. A good For- 
ward Seat enables one to school the horse better, to control him better and 
the horse, being less abused, will probably perform better; but the possi- 
bility of a good performance will also depend on the natural abilities of the 
horse, on the equestrian tact of the rider, on the physical and emotional 
condition in which they both are at the time of the performance and last, 
but not least, on the ability of the rider to think logically and quickly from 
the first day of schooling to the day of the performance in question. (See 
the table of Chapter I.) 

However, everyone must begin by learning the seat by the book; it is 
only much later, on the basis of experience in controlling the horse, that 
one may find out that the standard seat should be modified in various 
small ways to suit one's particular physique. 

In the inseparable trio, schooling, control and seat, the latter is the 
junior partner; the new development in cross-country riding didn't start 
by inventing a seat and then adjusting schooling and control to fit it. All 
these parts were conceived by Caprilli as one; he created a fully rounded 
method of riding and this is why he exerted such an influence on the 
riding thinking of the 20th century. The simple idea of the Forward Seat 
by itself occurred to several riders before Caprilli. In MORE ABOUT RIDING 
FORWARD I say: 

56 



TROUBLES WITH THE FORWARD SEAT 57 

"On my shelves I have a three-volume work by John Adams (a riding 
teacher) entitled AN ANALYSIS OF HORSEMANSHIP, published in London in 
1805 . . . He discusses positions for High School, for hacking, for mili- 
tary purposes and for hunting. Out of about twenty pages on the hunting 
seat I will select certain phrases and will put them together in such a way 
that you will immediately recognize the modern Forward Seat. He does 
not have these points as well connected nor has he any good scientific 
explanation of them. Furthermore, he has other points which contradict 
the good ones, but he unquestionably had the idea of the Forward Seat. 
John Adams writes: '. . . the hunting seat is that of riding in the stirrups 
. . . the Intention of this style of riding is ... to relieve yourself from 
that friction and heat which the bottom would receive from such strong 
and continued gallop, if seated close on the saddle . . . the first thing to 
be considered is the length of the stirrup, which must not be too short, 
though somewhat shorter than what was recommended for military or 
road riding . . . when the horseman is raised in the stirrups he must 
have a forward inclination from about twenty to forty-five degrees short 
of a perpendicular, as the rider shall find most pleasant and convenient 
for himself; for from twenty to twenty-five degrees of inclination might be 
most pleasant and to stoop to forty-five degrees would look ridiculous as 
being unnecessary . . . But whether the body has a great or small inclina- 
tion the position otherwise must be the same as when upright; that is the 
breast open, the shoulders down, the back hollow, the head firm ... If 
you find it necessary you may turn your toes out a little to strengthen 
your hold . . , and when the thighs are not sufficient then the legs are 
applied, which is a deeper and stronger hold . . . the hands must be kept 
low.' " This seat he intends for the gallop only. He did not go so far as to 
work it out for the jump. 

I was told that it was for purely military reasons that Caprilli began 
his work of modernizing riding; his problem was to increase the mobility 
and tenacity of cavalry in order to adjust it to the changing conditions 
of warfare. I wasn't there and so I don't know the sequence of Caprilli's 
thoughts, but it seems to me that their normal logic should have proceeded 
along the following lines: to increase the endurance and the average speed 
of the cavalry, horses must be schooled in such a way that their natural, 
long, flat strides are preserved and developed, while the control should 
not interfere with this natural, free way of going. Allowed to move in 
this natural way, horses will cover more ground per minute and will use 
less energy per mile, while a Forward position which will unite the rider 
and his forward-moving horse will ease the horse's efforts still more. An 
appreciation of the natural balance of the horse and of the mechanics of 
his movements would be the foundation stones in my reasoning. I imagine 
that I am not far from the truth in thinking that such were the mental 
processes of Caprilli; at any rate the Italians are proud primarily of their 



58 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

method, "11 Sistema" and not merely of a part of it the Forward Seat. 

I can see that, to a beginner, whose mental and physical capacities are 
completely absorbed in learning how to sit properly, such things as school- 
ing, or the horse's performance are so remote that they don't really mean 
much. But somehow even people who like to think of themselves as horse- 
men often miss this point also. The average experienced American rider 
talks primarily seat. It is usual for people, when arguing about the causes 
of someone's winning a ribbon, to try always to boil them down to some 
point pf the seat. One will say that Mr. A won because he sat down in 
the saddle the last two strides before the jump or because he was out of 
the saddle throughout the approach, whatever the case may be. Of course, 
either of the above cases may often be responsible for a good jump; but 
it is not the basic point. You may look, if you have the opportunity, 
through a book by Gustave Rau (REITKUNST AN DEN OLYMPISCHEN 
SPIELEN, 1936) on the Olympic Games in Berlin in 1936. You will see in 
its pages more bad positions than you have ever seen in beginners' classes, 
and the jumps in Berlin were enormous, so that is where a perfect posi- 
tion should have really counted; but, just the same, many of the officers 
who were caught by the camera in most peculiar attitudes made very credi- 
table performances. So these men and horses possessed something else on 
the strength of which they were clearing fences; these factors, besides luck, 
could only be the talents of the riders and horses, and the results of school- 
ing and artistic control. But the results of schooling and fineness of con- 
trol are not to be seen easily by an inexperienced eye, while the seat seems 
to be obvious. 

Quite repeatedly, when I lecture I am introduced as an authority on 
the Forward Seat. To be frank, it always rather hurts me; I like to think 
of myself as a specialist on a certain method of Forward Riding and to 
leave me with a mere detail of it I don't think does me justice. And even 
two of my books RIDING FORWARD and MORE ABOUT RIDING FORWARD were 
reprinted in England under the changed titles THE FORWARD SEAT and 
MORE ABOUT THE FORWARD SEAT! Both books actually devote a compara- 
tively small number of pages to the discussion of the position. And hence 
I am very grateful to the English reviewer for The Field who wrote: "It is 
a pity . . . that Captain Littauer has selected this particular title for his 
book, especially as when one reads it one realizes that 'Less About the For- 
ward Seat' would have described the work quite accurately." 

In all my lessons I endlessly discuss this point; most discouragingly it 
seldom sinks iii. Many years ago I had a pupil, a man who began to ride 
at the age of fifty-one and, in about a year, less if I am not mistaken, he 
was able to participate in a horse show, in easy jumping classes, which I 
thought was extremely creditable. Soon afterwards his interests changed, 
he stopped riding and when, several years later, we met and I compli- 
mented him on his former success in riding he said: "No, no; I never really 
rode well; my heels were never quite enough down/' 



TROUBLES WITH THE FORWARD SEAT 59 

Little as the preoccupation with the perfection of the Forward Seat and 
its details interested me as a rider, it filled years of my life as a teacher. 
Normally, sixty per cent of my new pupils were beginners, and the ma- 
jority of those with riding experience had such poor positions that they 
had to be corrected before any constructive work could be done. The qual- 
ity which I aimed at in a seat was that it should be non-disturbing to the 
horse, secure, and should enable the rider to work the horse well. The 
belief that the seat which I should teach must be the forward one was clear 
by 1930, but its mechanics could vary somewhat as, for instance, the 
mechanics of the Italian Seat differ from those of the Fort Riley Seat. From 
the different possible mechanics I had to select the ones which would suit 
the aspirations of my average rider, besides satisfying myself; then a 
method of efficient teaching of such a seat had to be invented. All in all, 
the question of position rarely left my mind. And after long mental and 
practical groping I arrived at the following simple formula of what a good 
seat should be. It must (in motion): 

1) Unite the horse and the rider 

2) Offer security to the rider 

3) Not abuse the horse 

4) Place the rider's legs and hands in a position from which he will be 
able to control the horse quickly, and firmly and, if desired, with 
finesse. 

Here are a few explanatory words about these four points. It is obvious 
that the unity of the rider and the horse largely depends on such a distri- 
bution of the rider's weight in the saddle that his line of center of gravity 
and that of the, horse nearly coincide (this means the forward seat in the 
case of a horse which moves ahead with forward balance). 

This unity of the horse and the rider abuses the horse the least, enables 
him to move freely without the interference of the rider's weight, and, at 
the same time, gives to the rider a great deal of possible security. Naturally 
the rider's security is very much diminished if his efforts are not in har- 
mony with the movements of the horse. The basic security derived from 
being one with the horse must be increased by the execution of mechanical 
details of the Forward Seat. In some of these: details, and only in these, I 
was forced to disagree with both the Italian and the Fort Riley schools 
but about this later. 

Once the rider has taken his weight from the horse's loins and placed 
it forward, on a stronger part of the horse's back, he already has decreased 
the abuse of the horse and, if after this, he proceeds to follow the move- 
ments of the horse with his torso and arms, the remaining unavoidable 
abuse becomes minimum. 

As to the best position for the legs and hands for efficient control, just 
a few changes had to be made, varying only slightly from the classical 



60 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

version; they primarily consisted of lowering the hands and of holding 
them farther apart. 

A correct execution of the details of the Forward Seat increases the firm- 
ness of the rider in the saddle as well as his unity with the horse and thus 
enables the rider to approach the ideal described in the four fundamental 
points of a good Forward Seat. In my method these details are as follows: 
1) Balance 2) Rhythm 3) Spring 4) Grip. 

I have put them in the order of their importance as I see it, and their 
description follows: 

1) A state of balance in the saddle is the result of unconscious muscular 
efforts of the rider's body, primarily of his torso, which aim to keep the 
rider's center of gravity over his base of support, while being disturbed 
by the shocks of locomotion. 

2) Rhythm consists of instinctive movements of the rider's torso and 
arms which adjust his self-balancing efforts to the movements of the horse 
(balanced not only in the saddle but also with the horse). 

3) Spring is the ability of the rider to absorb a part of the effects of 
the shocks of locomotion by a) keeping his body in an angular position 
(angles in the hips, knees and ankles) and b) instinctive, timely opening 
and closing of these angles, while receiving the impetus from the stirrups 
for instance, posting from the stirrups and not from the knees. 

4) Grip may be of two kinds: frictional, which depends merely on the 
correct placing of the legs in the saddle, without any additional effort 
on the part of the rider, and the muscular grip, which results from a mus- 
cular effort by the same parts of the legs which are already in frictional 
contact. These parts are the lower thighs, inner surfaces of the knees and 
the upper calves. 

Experience has taught me that it is wise first to develop a correct posi- 
tion by the use of balance, rhythm, spring and frictional grip, adding mus- 
cular grip later. In the case of the average beginner, attempts to grip hard 
stiffen him and, once stiff, he loses the sense of balance, rhythm and spring. 
I have encountered many riders with a strong, picture-seat but so hope- 
lessly stiff that any work with the horse was precluded. A seat which is 
not a "workman's seat" is, in my estimation, worthless. A "workman's 
seat" is the seat which gives the horse ease of action and the rider ease of 
control. Picture 14 illustrates such a seat at a standstill, with the stir- 
rups adjusted for cross-country riding. 

As I have said previously, it is in the matter of the, so to speak, "insides" 
of the Forward Seat and not in its external appearance that I unfortu- 
nately had to disagree with so many other schools of forward riding. A 
clear comprehension of the inner workings of the Forward Seat, being the 
basis of the method of teaching, was, of course, of utmost importance to 
me. The silhouettes of well-executed Forward Seats, whether Italian, 
or Fort Riley or the one which I teach, at the gaits as well as over the 




Pic. 15. 




Pic. 16. 



From "More About Riding Forward" V, S. Littauer 



Pics. 15 and 16. (Mr. Chester A. Braman and Dr. Walter Kees) illustrate the 
fundamental points of good jumping: 1) the complete ease of the rider in 
handling his body and, 2) the complete freedom, enjoyed by the horse as a result 

of the former. 

As to the martingale in picture 15 fifteen years ago I was not yet as definitely 
against it as I am today (these pictures of two pupils of mine were taken in the 




Pic. 17. Shows the trajectory of the withers of the horse. 




Pic. 18. Shows two trajectories one of the withers and the other of the croupe. 
The fact that the two lines merge for a good half of the jump indicates that the 
efforts of the horse's body were well synchronized. In this case the rider used 

the forward seat. 




From "The Defense of the Forward Seat" by 
V. S. Littauer and S. N. Kournakoff 

Pic. 19. Illustrates the jump of the same horse ridden by the same rider using 
the backward seat. The trajectory of the croupe remained consistently on a lower 

plane than the trajectory of the withers. 

The near merging of the two trajectories is typical for a good jump of a free 
horse and therefore these pictures give additional proof that the natural efforts 
of the horse in jumping are disturbed less. by the forward seat than by any other 

position. 

These photographs were taken by the following means: a flashlight was at- 
tached either to the withers or to the croupe and the pictures were taken at 
night in a subdued light in the riding ring. See text page 67. 



TROUBLES WITH THE FORWARD SEAT 61 

jump, may be practically alike, differing only as the riders' conformations 
differ. (Pics. 15 and 16 show my pupils taken in the thirties.) 

The mechanics of human bodily actions can be analyzed quite precisely. 
To choose a ludicrous example: I once knew a riding teacher who, being 
over-apprehensive of broken arms and legs, conceived a way of falling 
which would prevent fractures of the limbs and who taught it to his 
pupils. It must have been well-reasoned for they all fell alike; but there 
was one flaw in it they all fell on their faces! 

But in spite of this general knowledge of human mechanics and con- 
siderable acquaintance with those of the horse, the Forward Seat as we 
know it today was not conceived at once. The early Forward Seats had 
many defects and mine was not an exception. For instance, in three of 
my books, all written from twelve to sixteen years ago, I omitted at least 
one important point, and twice I explained details badly: 

1) I never mentioned that the fleshy part of the buttocks should be 
forced rearward, toward the cantle, but that owing to the torso's forward 
inclination there is no weight in them. 

2) While insisting upon pulling the heels down, I should have added 
that all the weight going into the stirrups should go into the heels, which 
of course is a physical impossibility but is very descriptive of the feeling 
that the rider should have. 

3) Instead of saying that the lower legs should be held back so that the 
toes and knees are on approximately the same vertical line I should have 
said "so that the stirrup leathers hang vertically/' or are held slightly be- 
hind the vertical. 

Work on bettering the details of the Forward Seat and the development 
of the application of modern principles to control and schooling still goes 
on. The French in particular have done very interesting work along these 
lines since World War II. In the way of forgetting Caprilli they went a 
step ahead of us and called the Forward Seat "position Danloux." 

I am not giving here a full description of all the points of the Forward 
Seat, for my collaborator, Alexis Wrangel will do that in his part of the 
book. 

Speaking of the understanding of how the Forward Seat functions and 
what efforts the rider should make to maintain it, my disagreement with 
the Italian school revolved around really one point: that of having the 
knees as a pivot for the whole position, as it was described in an excellent 
book by Captain P. Santini, RIDING REFLECTIONS. It seemed to me in 1933, 
when this book appeared (and I haven't changed my mind since), that if 
the rider's position depended primarily on firmly fixed knees then he was 
greatly hampered in the use of his legs. For, as long as a strong use of the 
legs releases the wedging of the knees, it would seem that the rider's posi- 
tion would be weakened every time he had to control the horse forcibly. 
Of course, on perfectly schooled horses, such moments may occur very 
rarely and don't have to be considered seriously; but a perfectly schooled 
horse is far from being a general case in this world, at least today. 



62 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

I am also against gripping strongly with knees alone because as a result 
of abrupt movements of the horse which the rider has not been able to 
follow rhythmically he often loses his position by pivoting on the knees, 
usually landing on the horse's neck or beyond. All of us have seen this 
happen to such riders during unexpected refusals or irregular take-offs 
for the jump. Obviously, gripping with the lower thighs, knees and upper 
calves is stronger than with the knees alone. 

Furthermore, a strongly fixed knee interferes with the flow of the weight 
into the stirrups and stiffens the knee joints, thus greatly diminishing the 
amount of spring in the rider's body. This spring, which is rarely men- 
tioned by other schools of forward riding is to me a very important ele- 
ment in a good, effortless forward seat. And last, but not least, I am quite 
certain that a hard grip stiffens a beginner and, once in the habit of being 
stiff, some never relax in their lives. So how am I to produce relaxed 
riders (not merely sitters) if my teaching from the outset is to be based 
on a fixed knee? Thus, with great regret, I had to reject for my work this 
part of the Italian method, of many principles of which I personally am 
so fond. 

Lately one hears more and more often about the evil of fixed knees. For 
instance in CONCOURS HJPPIQUE by Y. Benoist-Gironiere one reads: 

". . . the knee ought to remain in contact with the saddle but only in 
an elastic contact so that it can open and close ... So don't grip with 
the knee, it will lose all its elasticity and the lower leg will oscillate 
around it as a wooden leg ... The rider's legs must adhere to the horse 
principally at two areas the calves and parts of the legs slightly above 
the knee . . ." (translation is mine). 

Along these lines a French officer, Colonel Ejanloux, designed a jump- 
ing saddle on which the so-called knee rolls end before reaching the knee, 
giving support only to the lower thigh and leaving the knees free for 
action. On this saddle there are also rolls at the bottom and rear of the 
skirts, to prevent the lower legs from slipping back. 

Speaking of the description of the mechanical details of riding and es- 
pecially of the seat, I found that in civilian life one had to be very careful 
to be logical and exact when teaching men, many of whom were either 
professional engineers or 20th century mechanics at heart. For example, 
at a certain period of my teaching life, I used to recommend widely the 
United States Cavalry manual HORSEMANSHIP AND HORSE MASTERSHIP, 
which I still consider contains a good description of position at the gaits 
and in jumping. As long as this description was very similar to what I 
was teaching, the authority of the book in my estimation should have 
backed up my teaching. It worked in many cases, but not in all, and it was 
occasionally pointed out to me that some statements in it were mechani- 
cally illogical and, although they were of a general nature and unimportant 



TROUBLES WITH THE FORWARD SEAT 63 

to beginners, they created doubt in those parts of the book recommended 
by me. Of these I remember two: 

1) "The Military seat ... is dependent upon balance augmented by 
suppleness, muscular control of the body and the use of the legs." (Page 
21, edit. 1945). 

It was pointed out to me several times after I had recommended the 
book that this definition mechanically doesn't hold water. How can the 
balance be augmented by suppleness and muscular control when the state 
of balance itself is the result of muscular control executed (primarily) by 
a semi-supple (alert) torso? 

2) On the same page, paragraph #4 states: "the principal elements 
in the discussion (of the seat) are the rider's upper body, his base of sup- 
port and his equilibrium or balance/' 

Obviously, mechanically speaking, neither does this phrase make any 
sense, for one cannot put in the same category concrete things such as 
body and legs and abstract qualities such as balance. 

The fact that there were and still are disagreements between different 
schools of forward riding is, of course, a healthy sign; it merely means that 
there are riders who think and experiment. But in one sense it has been 
unfortunate there has been no common front, while common enemies 
have been numerous. Not only in private conversations but even in print 
the Forward Seat riders were called "monkey on the stick," "frog on a 
rock," etc., while the air in tack-rooms was heavy with a specific use of the 
English vocabulary. Well-mannered people, of course, didn't resort to bad 
language but often the essence of their criticisms were of a primitive order. 
Even such a civilized and intelligent riding teacher as the late Barretto de 
Souza wrote in The Rider and Driver, as recently as 1933, about a picture 
of a jump in which the rider was sitting on the cantle of the saddle with 
legs stuck forward, as follows: 

"The Rider and Driver could not have selected a better example to 
demonstrate the beauty and effectiveness of the Old Time Jumping Seat 
. . . even a person knowing nothing about riding cannot help admiring 
the grace and form ... a horseman, of course, would realize that the 
lady's sitting close to the saddle did not prevent her mount's hindquarters 
from rising high above the obstacle." The jump in question was very 
much like the jumps in Pictures 6 8c 7 of this book. 

The absence of intelligent criticism, by the way, was a great hindrance 
in my work. Remarks like: "When using the Forward Seat the rider will 
fall off if the horse refuses or pecks on the jump" could not be taken 
seriously, while no really constructive ideas came from the enemy's camp. 
I often had to think of arguments myself, arguments against the method 
on which I was sold, and this was rarely a help. And I personally needed 
wise advice very badly. I have said already that not until 1930 did I have 



64 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

a clear-cut idea of the Forward Seat, and it took me another year or two 
before I learned how to produce pupils who sat welL For instance, my 
book JUMPING THE HORSE (published in 1931) has many illustrations of 
riders jumping with faulty positions which are accepted by the text as 
good ones. Excusing myself, I wish to point out the long road that all 
of us who were changing from the old to the new had to travel. For in- 
stance, in an old Fort Riley MANUAL OF EQUITATION (edit. 1929) the 
description of the seat begins with the following paragraph: 

"The buttocks should be pushed well forward underneath the body and 
bear equally upon the middle of the saddle." (Page 17). 

While in the same manual rewritten a few years later, one reads: 

"The fleshy parts of the buttocks are forced to the rear and in no case 
form part of the seat." (Page 21). 

The changes were coming fast. 

"The steam that blows the whistle, doesn't turn the wheels," and so 
the activities of most of our critics were purely negative ones. With the 
growth of the popularity of Forward Riding, some of its many enemies 
felt that the time had come to change, associating themselves with some- 
thing new but not yet completely with the Forward Seat; it probably 
seemed to them that the market wasn't quite ready for it. These people 
often advertised that they taught the "modified" or the "balanced" seat. 
There is nothing wrong with either of these terms. I, myself, teach a seat 
which is nothing else but a certain modification of the original Italian 
Forward Seat, while any good seat gives the rider a chance to be balanced 
with the horse in motion. The old classical seat also balanced the rider 
with the collected movements of his horse. So, of course, the seat which I 
teach is a balanced one also. Lt. Col. H. Chamberlin sometimes referred 
to the Forward Seat as the "balanced seat;" many graduates of the United 
States Cavalry School use the latter term. Many good riding teachers pre- 
fer it. All this is quite right, but many professionals use these terms as a 
smoke screen. So often the teaching camouflaged by these terms "modified" 
and "balanced" merely means a Classical seat, with shortened stirrups, 
for the gaits, combined with a sort of Forward Seat on the jump; the latter, 
naturally, mechanically poor. In other words, they today teach something 
like that with which I started twenty-four years ago, in 1927. 

And today, when at least in jumping-classes one rarely sees anything 
but the Forward Seat (well or badly executed is another matter), many 
riders who use it prefer not to admit that their seat is the forward one. 
This peculiar situation is owing to their reluctance to admit that they ac- 
tually are practicing something which they and the tradition of their 
riding group have long been against in theory. Occasionally well-wishing 



TROUBLES WITH THE FORWARD SEAT 65 

people suggest to me that I should, while continuing to teach what I do 
teach, disguise it all under another name. 

In one of this summer's shows I pointed out a rider to a friend and 
asked: "Who is this girl? Her forward seat is as perfect as they come." My 
friend laughed and said: "Don't tell her; she will get really angry. She 
wants to believe that she doesn't ride forward." 

This girl is not alone in her sentiments and, as I have said above, repre- 
sents a group which is reluctant to admit that anyone can teach them any- 
thing and which likes to think that they have always instinctively known 
the best way to ride. Hence they cannot associate themselves with any 
theories promoted by someone who doesn't belong to their little circle. 

There are several good technical reasons for using the name "Forward 
Seat." It goes well together with the other two terms of Forward Riding 
"Forward Control" and "Forward Schooling," thus underlining the fact 
that the seat is just a part of a method. Have you ever heard anybody say- 
ing "Balanced Control" or "Balanced Schooling?" Of course not; these 
expressions do not make sense. Thus the term "Balanced Seat" tends to 
imply that the seat is something by itself, that riding begins and ends with 
it, or that modern cross-country riding is a combination of a new seat 
and old-fashioned methods of controlling and schooling. Besides this, 
the term "Forward Seat" also synchronizes well with the terms "forward- 
balanced horse" and "forward-moving horse;" both terms being the foun- 
dation for the "Forward Seat." 

There is another, purely ethical, reason for my using the term Forward 
Seat. This is the original term; all the early writers McTaggart, Santini, 
Chamberlin, etc., used it. By now it is an historical term and I do not 
see why we should change it, thus making it harder to remember the work 
of the pioneers. The issue has already been obscured to the point where 
many forward riders of today don't even know who Caprilli was. 

Looking back at my early days of teaching the seat to civilians, I can 
see a period of two childish phases, neither of which, luckily, lasted long. 
The first one consisted in using the methods for teaching troopers in the 
old Russian army. It was a sort of a drill, with a great deal of shouting, 
very short rest periods and little explanation. At the end of the hour the 
horses were steaming, the riders red in the face and perspiring; nobody 
learned much but all got a lot of exercise and were made happy. The 
second phase was the result of my preoccupation with the theoretical re- 
search which eventually resulted in my creating a method of riding and 
teaching. During this phase my poor pupils had to listen to lengthy dis- 
cussions on the theory of riding, most of which were to them both incom- 
prehensible and impractical I don't see why so many of them took it so 
patiently. 

By about 1931 my teaching was based on a sensible, practical method 
and from then on it was merely the matter of keeping on improving its 



66 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

efficiency. Throughout my teaching life I never stopped working in this 
direction, and even now, semi-retired from active teaching, I still work with 
riding teachers, some of whom, in their turn, cooperate with me by 
experimenting with my new teaching ideas. Just as an illustration: some 
years ago I came to the conclusion that a good position could be more 
quickly taught if the sitting trot, as one of the fundamental exercises, 
were to be entirely replaced by "a galloping position at a walk and slow 
trot." Miss Harriet H. Rogers and Mr. Clayton Bailey of Sweet Briar 
College, Va., Miss Elise White of Mexico, N. Y., as well as other teachers 
in women's colleges, all of them my former pupils, experimented with this 
change in exercises. After a couple of years of working with this new de- 
tail of the method they have come to the conclusion that they can now 
teach a correct position (secure enough for hacking at all gaits and jump- 
ing over obstacles 2i^ 7 high) in fifteen lessons. These riding teachers con- 
sider that this figure represents a gain of five hours in comparison with 
my older method which they previously used. I couldn't dream of any- 
thing like this in 1927 and I know many stables today where learning 
position is a never-ending process. 

THE SEAT IN JUMPING 

In 1932 Captain S. Kournakoff and I began our detailed study of the 
efforts of the horse in negotiating an obstacle. The idea behind this work 
was that a horse naturally jumps better free than under the rider (when 
the horse wants to), that no matter how good the rider is he is always a 
burden disturbing the horse by his weight and by his efforts to control 
him. This point of view, of course, can hardly be disputed and hence we 
thought that if we were to obtain a very clear picture of the natural efforts 
of a free horse jumping we would know how the rider should sit and be- 
have in order to be the least possible hindrance to his mount. Deciding 
to make a very thorough study of the subject, we came to the conclusion 
that the question must be analyzed by at least three entirely different 
methods and the result of the analysis accepted as proven only if all three 
methods pointed to the same answer. I, for my part, did research by means 
of movie and instantaneous photography; Captain Kournakoff made a 
mathematical study of the jump under the laws of ballistics and we to- 
gether worked on a rather ingenious method, suggested by Kournakoff, 
which consisted in the following experiments: 

In the course of our study we Were often referring to the shape of the 
horse's flight over the jump; to its length, to its height and to its curva- 
ture; in other words to the trajectory of the horse's flight. These trajec- 
tories differed with the horses; some took off very early and covered the 
obstacle with long and flat trajectories; others came near to the jump and 
went over it with short and sharply climbing trajectories. This word 
trajectory was always present in our conversation, but we actually had 
never seen the trajectory itself, in its purely, without being obscured by 



TROUBLES WITH THE FORWARD SEAT 67 

the mass of the horse's body. The word "trajectory" is defined in ballistics 
as follows: "An imaginary line described by a fixed point on a projectile 
in flight." The problem was to transform this imaginary line into a visible 
one, and this is how we did it: 

A small, but very bright, electric bulb was attached to a part of the 
horse's body. The current was fed by a dry battery attached to the saddle. 
A camera was placed exactly on the line of the jump, which was installed 
in an artificially lighted ring. Shortly before the horse started for the jump 
the shutter of the camera was opened and was left open until the jump 
was completed, the result being that the fast moving body of the 
horse would hardly leave a blur (due to poor lighting conditions), while 
the light of the bulb would trace a clear-cut line on the plate. Thus the 
trajectory ceased to be "imaginary." (Pic. 17). Many most enlightening 
experiments were possible with this method. For instance, Picture 18 
shows two trajectories one of the shoulder and the other of the hip, made 
by two electric bulbs, attached accordingly to the horse's body. In this 
particular case both lines nearly merge, proving that the horse jumped in 
a state of almost perfect ballistic equilibrium. In many cases such per- 
fect jumps of free horses could be duplicated under riders who used the 
Forward Seat well. On the other hand, as a rule, in the cases of riders in 
backward positions the trajectory of the hip would remain below the 
trajectory of the shoulder during the entire jump (Pic. 19). This was one 
of the proofs that the old-fashioned seat interfered with the natural jump 
of the horse. 

We had approximately twenty horses of different types at our disposal 
and all through 1933 the progress of our research appeared in the form 
of articles in the magazine The Rider and Driver. In 1934 we published 
them as a book, the 142 pages of which are exclusively devoted to this one 
second and a half which is approximately the duration of an average 
jump. The name of the book, THE DEFENSE OF THE FORWARD SEAT, im- 
plies the results which we obtained in our study. It was published in a 
limited edition of three hundred odd copies, and is by now a biblio- 
graphical rarity which may be, in some ways, unfortunate, although it 
tickles rny ego as a book-collector. The mathematical formulae which 
cover so many of its pages make it look rather frightening and for the 
average rider it is not the formulae but the conclusions which are of in- 
terest. On page 122, we read: 

"The study of the horse's movements while leaping has shown us that 
not a single part of the horse's body remains passive during the jump; 
that all the major parts are active throughout the entire jump. These 
parts are: the hindquarters, the back, the forehand and the neck and 
head practically the entire horse. Consequently, there is no place where 
the rider can be carried without interfering with the horse's natural and 
necessary movements. Evidently, all that the rider can do is to find the 



68 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

position which will be the least disturbing; this position must have the 
following elements: 

"1) The rider's buttocks during the entire jump should not be in 
contact with the horse's back. The horse's back must be free to extend, 
contract, curve upward and cave in, following and uniting the actions of 
his hindquarters and forehand. A horse's back, abused by the constant 
banging of the rider's seat, loses its activity and this diminishes the ac- 
tivity of the rest of the body, especially of the hindquarters. 

"2) The rider should not abuse the horse's forehand with his weight. 
The forehand must be free to produce thrusts and to rise when it is 
necessary. 

"3) The rider should not keep the horse's neck and head held tightly. 
The 'balancer* must be free to take part in inner-motions in accordance 
with the rest of the movements of the body. 

"In summing up what has been said: the rider, from the horse's view- 
point, must give complete freedom to the neck and head and keep his body 
away from the horse's back as well as from the forehand. Then only one 
point of the horse's body is left for the rider to use for the application of 
his weight. This is the area immediately behind the withers. This particu- 
lar part of the horse, during the jump, is a kind of a pivot. Everything 
ahead of it is active, as well as everything behind it. This center of oscilla- 
tion is the most passive part of the horse during the entire jump. 

"The position of the rider, once assumed, must be preserved throughout 
the jump. Any change means a change of distribution of the rider's weight 
and is disturbing to the horse. Moreover, the position must be assumed 
long before the jump, so that, long before the take-off, the horse can bal- 
ance his body according to the distribution of his rider's weight. No 
sudden changes should take place. A simple comparison to this is, that if 
any one of us had to take a jump while carrying a certain weight, we 
should be very careful to attach this weight to a part of our body which 
will be the least active (near the shoulder-blades) and to attach it so 
firmly that it will not disturb us during the leap." 

Of course, one could arrive at the same conclusions without ballistics, 
movies and attaching electric bulbs to the horse's withers, but it gives one 
a comfortable feeling to know that all that was said above is substantiated 
by serious study and doesn't rest merely on a flight of the imagination. 

I don't wish to imply that the technique of maintaining the Forward 
Seat on the jump which we recommended in this book is the best, but 
our research proved beyond a doubt that two things are to be striven for: 
1) the Forward Seat, 2) passiveness of the rider during the jump and, if 
possible, during the approach. The latter can be only the result of a cer- 
tain type of schooling. Perfect behavior, even on the part of a well- 
schooled horse, exists in books only and hence practical riding is based 
on compromises between the ideal passiveness and the often present neces- 



TROUBLES WITH THE FORWARD SEAT 69 

sity of controlling the horse during the approach. This is where the argu- 
ments can take place. 

There are two points which seem to be generally argued. They are: 
1) Should the rider sit or be out of the saddle during the approach to an 
obstacle? 2) Should the rider actively control his horse or should he be 
passive during the approach to an obstacle? 

These points are so important that I feel that instead of merely giving 
my opinion on the subject it will be worth while to take your time to 
quote you from a few outstanding and somewhat differing authorities on 
the matter. 

Here is how different schools of forward riding solve the problems of 
the rider's position and of the use of the aids during the approach to the 
jump: 

1) The manual of the United States Cavalry School (ed. 1945) follows, 
almost word by word, the description of how to approach the obstacle 
which one finds in Lt. Col. H. Chamberlin's book RIDING AND SCHOOL- 
ING HORSES (published in 1934). In part it reads: 

"... A horseman should always sit down in his saddle during the last 
fifteen or twenty yards of the approach . . . When seated for the ap- 
proach, the buttocks should be well to the rear, the loins hollowed-out, 
the heels driven far down, and the calves and knees glued to the saddle 
and horse. The body should retain the same marked forward inclination 
that it has when standing in the stirrups. The tendency to sit up a little 
straighter should be avoided, since, from the moment of take-off until 
landing is completed, the rider should be standing in the stirrups. . . /' 
(page 150, the italics are mine). 

"Normally, at about fifteen yards from the obstacle, after the horse has 
been rated and the rider is seated in balance, the legs should administer 
a strong squeeze with the calves, or, in dealing with a timid or unreliable 
hunter or jumper, a hard pinch with the spurs. The purpose of this leg 
action is to push the horse momentarily into his bit more firmly . . ." 
(page 151). 

"During the last few yards of the approach, the rider must give the 
greatest attention to following the movements of the horse's head and 
neck with semi-relaxed shoulders, elbows, and hands. . . . Upon arriving 
at the point of take-off the tension (on the reins) should never be heavier 
than the normal feel, and with a trustworthy horse, it is preferable to 
have the lightest contact possible." (pages 149 and 150). 

2) Lt. Col. H. Chamberlin in his second book TRAINING HUNTERS, 
JUMPERS AND HACKS (first published in 1938) on pages 130 and 131 
(English edition of 1946- the italics are mine) says: 

". . . Too often riders believe that they are assisting their horses over 
obstacles by using their hands ajid legs in various ways other than those 
to be described. The idea that one can 'place' his horse for each jump 



70 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

over a course of big and imposing obstacles is erroneous. Many really 
brilliant riders have tried it, but without complete success. The horse 
must do the jumping, and the less he is bothered, except to encourage and 
rate him, the better he will do. 

". . . Do not stand in the stirrups during the immediate approach, but 
allow your weight to settle on your thighs by relaxing the knee joints 
. . . keep the reins very slightly stretched and be certain that the hands 
with relaxed fingers, accentuate the following of every oscillation of the 
horse's head and neck . . . his 'balancer' must have the absolute freedom 
that results from complete relaxation of fingers, elbows, and shoulder 
joints. . . . 

"While approaching, your legs are continuously active with the inten- 
sity of action varying according to the sensibility of the horse, but always 
sufficient to sustain the speed required by the height and breadth of the 
obstacle. The best jumper in the world some day will refuse if the rider's 
legs are passive or weak . . . determined squeezing is usually sufficient 
encouragement." 

3) The Italian Cavalry school, in Caprilli's lifetime, taught the follow- 
ing (my translation from Captain P. Rodzianko's book, published in 
Russia, in 1911): 

"As a general rule the horse should not be urged approaching the jump, 
for it is too difficult to catch the moment . . .. urging is permissible only 
when the horse, after starting to move toward the obstacle quietly and 
rhythmically, begins to slow down approaching it. The bigger the obstacle 
the greater should be the passiveness of the rider, for in such cases inter- 
ference with the horse must be minimal and the horse must be given 
an opportunity to figure out the jump . . . some squeezing of the horse's 
sides should take place just before the jump so as to preserve the momen- 
tum. In general the horse must learn to jump willingly. It is considered 
that the horse is well schooled only when he doesn't require urging be- 
fore the jump." (page 140). 

4) In my book BE A BETTER HORSEMAN (published in 1941), which is 
written in conversational form, the following conversation takes place 
at the very end of page 67: 

"ANNE: I heard somewhere that the rider should sit during the last two 
or three strides before the jump. But I see that you don't, and that when 
nearing the fence all of you are out of the saddle in a normal galloping 
position." 

"MR. STRONG: This is because our horses are well-schooled. They go at 
the jump boldly and we don't have to push them. If I were to ride a 
poorly-schooled horse, in the habit of refusing, I would sit also in order 
to be able to use my legs better. As a result I would probably have diffi- 
culty in getting out of the saddle in time, and going forward sufficiently. 
I might even be left behind, and unquestionably would disturb my 



TROUBLES WITH THE FORWARD SEAT 71 

horse by the shifting of my weight; but it is often better to take the jump 
somehow than not to take it at all." 

In short, I believe that there is little black or white in riding and that 
there may be cases when sitting in the saddle for the last 15 yards of ap- 
proach, or merely allowing the weight to settle in the thighs (for one or 
two strides) by relaxing the knee joints may be reasonable and should be 
used. But I also think that minimizing the shifting of weight and mini- 
mizing control during the approach is very helpful for a boldly-going 
horse. My average teaching is based on the following considerations: 

1) It is easy to accept a galloping position and to maintain it without 
any voluntary changes throughout the approach and the jump. Attempts 
to change this position even slightly, just before the take-off, too often 
result in the rider being left behind. 

2) It is easier to school a horse to do the jumping himself than to teach 
a rider to control the horse softly during the approach. The latter is al- 
most impossible with pupils who ride only three times a week. 

3) Only a well-schooled horse will react correctly to the advanced rider's 
attempts to put him "on the bit*' when starting for the jump. Seldom do 
I have an opportunity to work with such horses. Hence normally I teach 
only the continuous "soft contact." 

I must be very wary in suggesting as a rigid rule urging the horse for- 
ward when approaching an obstacle, for I know that many of my readers 
have horses which go to the jump with too much impulse and ambition, 
and they should be "rated" rather with the hands than with the legs. 

In the case of a well-schooled horse which knows the meaning of the aids 
and which approaches the jump boldly and quietly, the legs should be 
used to maintain the speed and impulse. 

4) Attempts to follow with the arms through the air the balancing 
gestures of the horse's neck and head, in the case of the majority of riders 
result in banging the horse's back and jerking the reins or hanging on 
them. On the other hand, it is easy to teach, riders to release the tension 
on the reins by moving the hands forward and putting them on the horse's 
neck, 'without transferring too much of the weight onto the forehand 
(without abusing the forehand). 

Considering the above points, in my normal teaching of the average 
pupil, I have adhered to the following formula for riding during the 
approach (more artistic riding I reserve for some individuals only): 

1) Approach the fence in the galloping position and maintain it during 
the jump itself. 

2) The nearer the jump you are, the softer should become your contact 
with the horse's mouth (arms following the gestures of the horse's 
neck). 



72 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

3) About two or three strides before the jump move your hands forward, 
so that the reins gradually become loose, and place your hands on the 
horse's neck, firmly enough so that they will not jerk upward or back- 
ward. (Loose reins must give plenty of room for the balancing ges- 
tures by the neck.) Beware of abusing the horse's front with the 
weight of your body. If, later on, you can learn to follow with your 
arms the extension of the horse's neck through the air, so much the 
better. 

4) About four or five strides before the jump close in your calves as 
strongly as you feel necessary to maintain the desired speed and 
impulse. 

5) If, on some jumps, you feel that the squeeze which you can give from 
standing in the stirrups is insufficient then sink down on your thighs 
or simply sit down in the saddle so as to be able to use the legs with 
more force. However, consider such cases undesirable emergencies. 

6) If your horse habitually slows down before the jump, refuses, runs 
out, pulls, rushes etc., he should be schooled or reschooled (as the case 
may be), which is the only sound way to cope with such situations. 
Attempts to correct faulty jumping merely through dexterity in rid- 
ing never bring permanent and fully satisfying results. 

Riders who lead their horses to the jump between their legs and hands, 
place them and indicate the moment of take-off, doing it all rather softly 
and winning consistently, appear periodically in the horse shows. To me, 
a teacher of amateur riders, such a technique is unacceptabe as a method. 
The best of such performances are based on intensive schooling, the rid- 
ing talent of these horsemen and their extremely cool nerve; all this can 
hardly be applied to an average rider. But many people diagnose such 
cases differently and boil down the winning technique of such perform- 
ances to a few simple and incorrect assumptions. They naively say: "To 
ride as well we must sit down approaching the jump, body erect; collect 
the horse; place the horse by checking him strongly a couple of times; 
during, the last stride suddenly release the reins and give a strong leg- 
signal to jump. That is all." All this done on half-schooled horses, by 
half-educated riders leads to plastically ugly jumps made by horses with 
their mouths wide open from the hard pull of the reins and, such per- 
formances, whether winning or not, are unnatural, ugly and one may say 
cruel. But just the same, such performances are often the winning ones. 
The statement that bad riding may sometimes have a better chance of 
winning than good riding may seem senseless, but let me give you an 
illustration of such a possibility. Once I had a mare in schooling who, 
being bold but unambitious and having excellent balance and good 
agility, eventually developed into a sound but not brilliant jumper. It 
was rather pleasant to watch her go over courses not higher than 4'; a 
good, even gallop at the approach, well-figured take-off, closely-figured 



TROUBLES WITH THE FORWARD SEAT 73 

jumping efforts, the obstacle negotiated plastically. But, if ridden well by 
a nondisturbing rider who allowed her the full liberty of going and of 
figuring the obstacle herself, she would get careless and one or two 
knocked, or at least touched, fences would be the rule. But the rider 
could considerably increase the chances of a clean performance by up- 
setting her a stride or two before the jump by a strong pull on the reins 
or a sudden kick with the legs or by quickly switching the weight backward 
in the saddle. Then, feeling her balance upset, she would become fright- 
ened and would leap the fence in some ugly, awkward manner but with a 
strong effort which would leave a good foot to spare. 

The ever-present desire of so many riders, novices among them, to 
imitate winners is often disturbing to the riding teacher. Every new star, 
no matter how unorthodox his method, may start a small mutiny among 
certain pupils. It is very hard to combat at the time, for to many people 
winning is the best argument, and it is only with the years that those 
who have gained some perspective and remember the rise and fall of idols 
may realize what a false scent they were following. In the course of my 
own life, I can think of half a dozen teams, besides many more individ- 
ual riders, who successively rose to supremacy and fell into obscurity. In 
all these cases of teams but one (the details of which I don't happen to 
know), I can trace their success to an unusually able head of the team, 
rather than to the method. And when I refer to the talent of the captain of 
the team, I don't merely mean that in every case he was an outstanding 
horseman; I primarily mean a very clever, energetic and ambitious person. 

I am a horseman rather than a sportsman and hence never could really 
get excited by the fact that a certain horse, after running for a mile, 
finished one length ahead of the rest of the field. Nor am I taken off my 
feet by the fact that a horse has won a class after taking, let us say, twenty 
or thirty obstacles without a fault, while half a dozen other horses lost just 
because they cleared only nineteen or twenty-nine obstacles. Naturally 
from the point of view of a collection of trophies the difference is enor- 
mous, but from the point of view of riding there may be none. The impres- 
siveness of such winning begins when it can be repeated day in and day 
out, and to explain it I believe one has to search for human ingenuity 
rather than for the points of a certain method. No method can aim at 
making great riders or great horses; they are made in heaven. But any 
sound method raises the performances of a multitude of average riders 
and average horses. And this is precisely what Forward Riding has ac- 
complished. 

Since first writing this book I have come to realize that a term which I 
frequently employ, "average rider/' is apt to be taken in rather a different 
way from that in which I meant it. "Average," as I use it here, has no 
belitting connotation; it simply means any good rider outside the excep- 
tional ones; it applies to people who have no intention of participating 
in international competitions or of making a life career of riding, who 
have only the average amount of time to devote to riding it means the 
usual (actually or potentially) good rider, not the usual poor rider. 



CHAPTER VI 

Learning the Forward Seat 

BY ALEXIS WRANGEL 

When I had my first opportunity to do much riding two courses of 
action lay open to me. One was to study, starting from scratch under a 
competent teacher; the other to get on the horse and have fun across hill 
and dale, trusting that time, and falls, and other experiences would even- 
tually teach me to ride as so many of my hunting acquaintances who had 
ridden "all their lives" had assured me they would. 

What prompted me to choose the first alternative was the mental com- 
parison between the magnificently smooth and masterful riding of young 
graduates from military cavalry schools, Riley> Tor di Quinto, Hanover, 
etc., and the painful performances of so many self-made horsemen with 
long experience in the hunting field, shows and elsewhere. The loose, 
sloppy seat, arms and legs flopping, did not seduce me, nor was I en- 
thralled by the immediate and brusque transition from a long, floating 
rein to a sharp pull and inevitable jerk when something unforeseen 
happened and the rider rectified his position by hanging on to the reins. 
So I decided to study riding seriously. 

My first study was under the instruction of a very forward-seat-minded 
teacher; but it was of a distinctly exaggerated character. 

The main features of this type of seat were: a fixed knee the pivot of 
the rider's position a very short stirrup with the lower leg drawn well 
back depressed heel with slightly turned-out sole a very hollow loin 
the rider's torso leaning always forward. The shoulder, knee and toe of 
the rider always formed a straight line. (Pic. 20). 

The disadvantages of this seat were: at the gallop my crotch was com- 
pletely out of the saddle, % consequently I only felt my horse through the 
knee; because of the short stirrup I could only use my heel and spur when 
requesting additional forward motion progressive squeezing with the 
calf was almost impossible due to the immobile position of the lower leg 
wedged between the stirrup iron and the fixed knee. The short stirrup 
length also made a marked forward inclination of the body imperative at 
the walk and trot in order not to sit on the cantle of the saddle. In the 
event of an unsuccessful jump I did not have sufficient grip area to main- 
tain my position and, pivoting on the knees, wound up occasionally on 
the horse's head. (Pic. 21). 

The advantages of such a seat were markedly pronounced at the gallop 

74 



LEARNING THE FORWARD SEAT 



75 




Pic. 20. An exaggerated, mechanically incorrect, forward seat. Too short stirrups 
are the beginning of the trouble. 




Pic. 21. Pivoting on the knees creates insecurity, particularly on a difficult jump. 



76 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

and over jumps on a free-going and willing horse when no struggle or 
special efforts were required to control him or to make him jump. 

My second teacher, a very talented rider himself, rode the old classical 
seat adapted to modem methods of riding and jumping. He made me 
lengthen my stirrups, ride much more erect, and sit deeply in the saddle 
when galloping and approaching jumps. The lower leg was not drawn 
back from the knee, and the back was relaxed, the loins being slack. My 
teacher's explanations were that my horse could at all times be held be- 
tween hands and legs and I could thus have complete control while, with 
a soft, flexible spine, I followed the horse's movement by sitting deeply 
in the saddle and feeling the horse with my seat. (Pic. 22). 

The greatest disadvantage of this seat was that I was always slightly be- 
hind my horse, and compensating movements of my body were constantly 
required to catch up with the horse's movements. In jumping this was 
most apparent and often caused overriding i.e. strenuous efforts of legs, 
hands, and body. This created interference with the horse's strides in 
approaching the jump, while the violent lurch forward of my body upset 
him at the take-off. 

This seat did teach me to follow through with my arms during the 
jump, because, however behind I might be with my body, my arms had 
to give in order not to jab the horse in the mouth. Also, with a sticky 
horse, I could use my legs with great force as I sat deeply in the saddle 
and drove the horse forward. 

With a forward-going horse the disadvantages of this seat were very 
strongly felt the exaggerated forward seat was much easier, particularly 
at the gallop and over jumps. 

With sticky, reluctant, behind- the-bit horses the deep seat was more 
satisfactory, but required skill from the rider, split-second timing and 
much rhythm and suppleness. When my timing was the slightest bit off 
disaster was inevitable I was left behind. (Pic. 23). 

In reviewing in my mind these two methods of riding it struck me that 
each stressed a certain principle, and the two points formed a sharp con- 
trast. 

I* he exaggerated forward seat demanded the absolute freedom of the 
horse, whereas the other method put all its emphasis on control by the 
rider. When I gave the horse complete liberty, assuming for that purpose 
an attitude devoid of security and power to control, I sacrificed everything 
for the betterment of the horse's freedom of action. Were the horse a 
mere automaton controlled by pushbuttons this would be the only natural 
way to ride. Unfortunately or fortunately, whichever way you like to 
look at it this is not so; efficient control is necessary when riding and 
most essential when schooling. This lack of control was the main defect 
of the exaggerated forward seat to which I was first exposed. However, 
when in the second method of riding which I subsequently studied con- 
trol became predominant, and my seat subjugated entirely to it, I found 



LEARNING THE FORWARD SEAT 



77 




Pic. 22. This is one of many versions of an old-fashioned seat. Many riders 
still use it at gaits and then shift to some sort of forward seat for jumping. 




Pic. 23. It takes an acrobatic rider to change quickly from an old-fashioned seat 
on the approach to the forward seat over the jump. The majority of riders are 

left behind. 



78 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

that forward free movement (the sine qua non of modern riding) suffered 
distinctly. 

When I first started my studies with Captain Littauer the lines to be 
drawn between these two influences were not clear in my mind I tended 
to jump from one extreme to the other. Gradually, as Captain Littauer 
corrected my seat and worked on my control, the two opposites came 
into balance. It is my personal opinion that the system which draws the 
most from both these schools without subtracting from either is the best 
one for all normal purposes; and my intention is to describe in this chap- 
ter Captain Littauer's method of teaching the correct seat which, in my 
estimation, blends into unity the two conflicting factors. 

All through my equestrian studies it has been my impression that lots 
of words in lengthy, loose sentences even when coming from the lips 
of an expert seem only to confuse the pupil. 

When a novice is told to put the horse on the bit and approach the 
jump riding in balance, it means as much to him as Einstein's theories 
to the African bushman. However, if the advice is offered thus: "Weight 
in stirrups, squeeze with legs, hollow loin, light feel on reins" things 
begin to look clearer. 

In the course of my studies with Captain Littauer I have found that 
his indications as to the execution of any particular movement on horse- 
back (i.e. position of the rider) were boiled down to sentences where each 
word meant something quite precise. Therefore I have decided to repro- 
duce these sentences, in order to show as concisely as possible what one 
must try to achieve when walking, trotting, galloping and jumping. It 
can be done differently; after all, many experts win shows rounding their 
backs with heels in the air. If you can ride and jump better standing on 
your head go ahead and do so, more credit to you! But if you are a 
novice, with an average amount of equestrian ability, I think the follow- 
ing method is the simplest. 

Capt. Littauer's instructions are printed in Roman, my own reactions 
are in italic: 

1) Place yourself in the saddle so that the crotch of the breeches 
touches the pommel. 

2) Sit with pelvis tipped forward, not on the buttocks; push knees 
forward and down. (Pic. 24) 

Executing the above commands I felt strongly wedged into the saddle. 
Draw the lower leg back so that the stirrup leathers are vertical (Pic. 25) 
or slightly behind the vertical. 



LEARNING THE FORWARD SEAT 



79 



4) Then the stirrups will come directly under the body and the rider 
can at will stand in them as he would on the floor. 

When doing this I felt that were the horse to be suddenly withdrawn 
from under me and my body lowered in that same position to the ground 
I would find myself standing on the ground, squarely on both my heels. 

5) Put part of your weight in the stirrup and, pulling your heels down, 
feel as if the weight in the stirrups actually went into the heels. (Pic. 26) 

When this happened the muscles in my calf stretched while those in 
the thigh were contracted this made my leg hard and I was able to grip 
the saddle more strongly. 

6) Tilt your torso forward from the hips until your body gets bal- 
anced in the stirrups. (Pic. 27) 






Pic. 24 



Pic. 25 



Pic 26 



Then I realized that with only a small inclination forward of my body 
I was united with my horse moving at a walk. 

7) When leaning forward keep your torso in a normal, alert position 
with chest open and head up. Push your buttocks back toward the cantle 
(no weight on them). 

When my head was up and my chest open my hollowed loins started 
pressing the pelvis forward wedging it further into the saddle. With an 
alert position of the torso I found it easy to balance myself and to remain 
united with the horse in motion. After I was able to execute the above 
points I found myself about half standing in the stirrups with a very 
springy body which hinged on three main springs (in the hips, knees and 
ankles). When rounding my back the whole structure of my body collapsed 
into the saddle. I found myself sitting on the buttocks, and, although per- 



80 



COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 



haps in balance in the saddle, / was not any more in balance with the 
horse. (Pic. 28) 

8) Rider's weight should be distributed through three springs A, B, C 
(hip, knee and ankle). Tension in these springs should increase with^ in- 
crease of the shocks of locomotion, and reach a maximum in jumping. 
(Pic. 29, I, II, III) 

I felt that the benefits of these springs could be lost by: a) greatly de- 
creasing the weight in the stirrups. Without using the stirrups the tension 
in those springs was completely gone, b) If I pinched the saddle strongly 
with my knees the flow of weight into the stirrups was partially cut off. 

9) At the walk, trot and canter, when the horse behaves, use the grip 





Pic. 27 



Pic. 28 



which merely consists of a permanent, effortless contact between the sad- 
dle and the lower thighs, inner surfaces of the knees, and upper calves. 
(Pic. 30) 

10) During the gallop or jumping, or when the horse misbehaves, in- 
crease the frictional grip with a muscular effort of these three parts of the 

le s- 

Having ridden in the past that type of seat in which the fixed knee was 
the basic part of the rider's position, I find that I retain to this present day 
a certain stiffness due to a harder grip of the knee than is warranted under 
normal circumstances. 

When starting a gallop and approaching a jump hence changing from 
a contact grip to a strong one / found that unless I had my weight well 
into the stirrups the action of gripping strongly squeezed me up and out 



LEARNING THE FORWARD SEAT 



81 



of the saddle. A constant strong grip for a lengthy period made me stiffen 
up. Little by little I learned to use the strong grip only in those instants 
when it was really necessary. 

11) For better gripping and in order to bring the upper calf in contact 
with the saddle:. a) keep your toes open about 30 degrees; b) hold your 
stirrup so that the foot touches the inside bar and press more on the 





Pic. 30 




Pic. 29 



Pic. 31 



82 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

inside of the stirrup than the outside. This may turn your sole slightly 
outward. (Pic. 31) " _ , 

With point a) I had no trouble whatsoever from the outset, the turned 
out toes came naturally; as regards point b) the stirrup remained in the 
correct position only when I had learned to subordinate gripping to bal- 
ancing with my weight in the stirrups. With insufficient weight in the 
stirrups the stirrups moved along the sole of the foot. 





Pic. 34 



Pic. 22 





Pic. 35 




Pic. 33 



Pic. 36 



12) Hold your stirrup under the ball of your foot or home, whichever 
gives you a better position of the lower leg. The stirrup leathers then lie 
flat-pressed against the side of your hoot just inside the shinbone; this 
binding effect of the stirrup leathers adds to the stability of the rider's 
lower leg wedged against them, Never hold it under the 'toe it's too easy 
to lose, and with this hold it is hard to use the stirrup as a base of support. 
(Pic, 32) 

Personally I found it more comfortable to ride with the stirrups home; 
I found it easier thus to press on the inner tread of the stirrup, as well 
as to keep the stirrups in the correct position under my body in order to 
put my weight into them. 

1 3) Relax your arms in the shoulder, elbow and wrist joints. Bend your 
arms at the elbows, keeping; the latter slightly ahead of the torso. 



LEARNING THE FORWARD SEAT Q9 

03 

Maintain a straight line of action from elbow to horse's mouth (Pic. 33) 
at least when special efforts of control don't require for a moment a differ- 
ent attitude of the arms. In order to hold the reins on both sides of the 
horse's neck without touching it, the rider's hands will have to be approxi- 
mately 10" apart. The hands should be approximately parallel to the 
horse's shoulders (Pic. 34), (not thumbs upward as shown *in Pic. 35). 
This attitude permits a natural, unconstrained position of the wrist. 

I was well along in my riding studies before 1 learned to ride on con- 
tact with my arms following the horse's mouth at all times, and before 1 
realized the importance of keeping the hands well apart and away from 
the horse's neck. 

The snaffle rein should enter the rider's hand between the ring and little 
fingers (or under the little finger, whichever you like better), and emerge 
between thumb and forefinger. There is another way of holding the reins 
known as the driving rein in which the snaffle rein enters the rider's hand 
between forefinger and thumb, and emerges from under the little finger. 
This attitude permits very soft contact, and can be profitably used when 
np forceful action of the hand is necessary. (Pic. 36) 

As we are dealing solely with riding in a snaffle bridle we need only 
point out how to hold four reins without going further into this most 
delicate subject. The snaffle reins are on the outside entering under the 
rider's little finger, whereas the curb reins entej between the ring and 
little fingers. Both snaffle and curb reins emerge between the index finger 
and the thumb. 

Action of the hand will be discussed in Chapter X. 

14) A saddle constructed for an old-fashioned seat will require a strug- 
gle by the rider to maintain a forward position. 

The following two principal points of a properly constructed modem 
saddle enable the rider to maintain the forward seat easily (Pic. 37): 

1 The dip of the saddle near the front combined with a low pommel 
and raised cantle. 

2 The skirts well advanced to permit a forward position of the knee. 

/ happen to be tall and furthermore equipped with a long torso, con- 
sequently it is of great importance for me, personally, to distribute my 
weight correctly so as to be in balance over the stirrups. Unless I have 
a correctly fitted saddle permitting my knee to go well forward with my 
crotch in the throat of the saddle I find that the efforts I have to make 
to maintain my balance are such that they interfere with that relaxed 
freedom conducive to good control. The more I advanced in riding, 
and details of control became important, the more irked I became when 
constrained to allot part of my efforts to maintaining my position in a 
badly built saddle. Riding forward in an old-fashioned saddle Pic. 38 
seems to me as efficient as playing billiards with a baseball bat. 



84 



COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 



Three different lengths of stirrup leathers may be used in the course 
of riding and jumping. Pic. 39, I, II, III. 

a) Fairly long stirrup leathers for schooling work in the ring, where a 
deeper seat and greater leg mobility may be necessary. 

b) 1 to 2 holes shorter for hunting and field riding, permitting greater 
spring while keeping sufficient depth of seat for better control and to 
avoid fatigue during long stretches of riding. 

c) 1 to 2 holes shorter for jumping in the ring over large obstacles on 
a well-schooled jumper both security and control being sacrificed for 



f 







Pic. 38 



Pic. 39 



LEARNING THE FORWARD SEAT 85 

greater spring and a more forward position of the rider. However, too 
short stirrups are a fallacy; for though they give stability to the rider's 
lower legs they do not give stability to his overall position. 

/ learned that length of stirrup leather is a most flexible question. Not 
only did I find that I needed to alter the length of my leathers for dif- 
ferent types of riding (schooling^ jumping, etc.), but also that the con- 
formation and gaits of different horses made riding easier on longer or 
shorter stirrups depending on the particular horse. 

Throughout this book you will often read that the forward seat unites 
the rider with the horse moving ahead in a forward balance. If you read 
Chapter III, you will know that the above phrase is much more intricate 
than it sounds for the horse's balance is fluid, and correspondingly fluid 
must perforce be the rider's seat. The illustrations depicting the mechan- 
ics of the forward seat should be accepted with the understanding that 
they all represent really a moment an ideal moment but not a move- 
ment. In actuality neither the horse nor the rider are static; a slow- 
motion picture camera shows the split seconds during which both rider 
and horse are caught in such a position as would not seem true to the 
naked eye. All the above is said here to caution you not to be a wooden 
soldier and freeze in position as a rider in your favorite picture. After 
all, a good seat is primarily important as one of the means of riding well. 
At first when learning how to ride you must think about your position 
all the time, and in this period of your learning your picture matters a 
great deal. But later, when the contour of your position is correct when 
your spring, grip, balance, etc. are working effectively then there are 
only two criteria of your position; a) are you in fluid balance and rhythm 
with your horse or not? b) does your seat enable you to control your 
horse efficiently? 

Soon after you have begun the study of position you will learn how 
to stay with the horse at an even trot or even canter, or over a low obstacle. 
It will take you considerably longer to remain with the horse during 
sharp increases or decreases of speed abrupt stops, sharp turns, violent 
lateral movements, particularly when produced unexpectedly for you. 
In this respect you have to train yourself by practicing these movements 
at will. 

Having explained in the previous pages the mechanics of the rider's 
seat let us examine the ways of applying them to the walk, trot, canter, 
gallop and jump. 

The Walk (from the halt) (Pic. 40): Sitting in the correct position pre- 
viously depicted the rider leans slightly forward from the hips in anticipa- 
tion of the horse's forward movement, so that when this movement occurs 
he may not be left behind. His whole attitude may be described as one 
of "Alert Relaxation." Apart from the slight tightening of the muscles in 
his back helping to maintain a hollow loin, and the muscles in his 
ankle, all the other muscles are relaxed the frictional grip of the knees 



86 



COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 



and calves is very light, merely in contact with the saddle skirts. The 
greatest freedom in all the structure of the rider's position is claimed 
by the shoulders, arms, wrists and fingers. The arms follow the balancing 
gestures of the horse's head and neck in piston-like motion. The three 
hinges of Pic. 33 are completely free in their motions, just as free as ball 
bearings in some highly sensitive and well-greased machine. (This point 
will be taken up in the chapter on INTERMEDIATE CONTROL.) If 
anything sudden were to happen, the rider in a split second would have 
a very strong position by stiffening from the waist down thighs, knees, 
calves will then grip strongly but while just walking quietly the rider 




Pic. 40. A walk. (See text) 

relies mostly on his balance. To see whether he is really in balance with 
the horse, the rider should try the following experiment; without per- 
ceptible increase of inclination in his torso and without any lurching up 
or forward he rises slightly in his stirrups and stays up while the horse 
walks, without toppling forward or collapsing backwards. The rider's 
weight is then supported by the stirrups, and this attitude is given stability 
by the tension in the three springs of Pic. 29, 1, II, III. This, incidentally, is 
also the rider's position during the upward beat of the posting trot and 
at the gallop (with added grip) but more about this later. 

Having started my riding on forward seat principles I became quickly 
accustomed to this attitude, and had really no trouble preserving it dur- 
ing long stretches of riding. However, many of my friends who had "gone 



LEARNING THE FORWARD SEAT 



87 



forward" after many years in the saddle along classical lines have com- 
plained to me that they get stiff backs from keeping the loin caved in, 
and stiff ankles from having their weight in the stirrups. It is true that 
complete relaxation of all the rider's muscles and joints can be had when 
walking with the leg hanging down and the back slack, but this practice 
makes the horseman "ride heavy" (a dead weight on the horse's back). So, 
while indulging occasionally in the slothful luxury of riding like a sack 
to rest one's weary bones, I think that all should give a thought to the 
poor animal for whom this way of riding is just that much more work. 
(Especially at fast gaits, or during really long walking periods, particularly 
if the rider is heavy.) 




Pic. 41. The trot. (See text) 

(The Trot: Pic. 41): There are two ways for the rider to behave at the trot 
to sit or to post. It will be easier to understand the difference when the 
mechanics of the gaits are examined. The trot is a movement ol two 
beats each beat is constituted by the movement of a diagonal pair of 
legs. This movement throws the rider up, and if, when getting thrown 
up, the rider makes no effort of his own his weight will sink almost im- 
mediately back into the saddle and will again be bumped upwards by 
the advance of the next diagonal. If, on the other hand, after being thrown 
up by one diagonal the rider himself slightly prolongs the forward and 
upward movement of his torso, then he will still be in the air as the next 
diagonal moves forward and he will return to the saddle in time to be 
caught by the diagonal that gave him the initial thrust. Thus, when post- 
ing, the bumps are cut in half, which makes it easier for both horse and 
rider. The posting trot is used exclusively when hacking or hunting. The 



88 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

sitting trot, however, is sometimes of great advantage when school- 
ing a horse, at which time it permits a constant and consequently greater 
use of the leg; for when posting the horse can be urged forward only at 
the moment when the rider has returned to the saddle, as at the rising 
beat the rider's legs are active in maintaining his position. Therefore, 
when posting, the rider can squeeze the horse's sides once in every stride. 
During the sitting trot, however, with a certain dexterity of the legs the 
horseman can urge the horse (if necessary) half-a-dozen times in one stride. 

Obviously during the posting trot the work is not evenly distributed on 
both diagonals; in order to equalize this work the rider must change the 
diagonal once in a while, while trotting for any length of time. To do this 
he should sit out two beats instead of a normal one. Due to the fact that 
the horse's body is not equilaterally developed one diagonal may be the 
easier to post on, and it will, therefore, be easy for the rider to recognize 
on which diagonal he may be posting. 

Now, having explained the actual working of the trot, let us see how 
the rider will apply his seat to it. Again just as when moving from the 
halt into the walk he will lean forward from, his hip joints in anticipa- 
tion of the increase in forward motion; if he desires to sit the trot his 
seat will not deviate much from that of the walk. Again only spring C 
(the ankle) will be tightened; the other two springs (hip and knee) will 
merely act as well-oiled hinges the tension in them will be minimal. The 
calf and thigh muscles will be relaxed almost as much as during the walk. 
This will not be the case during the posting trot, for there springs A and 
B will work in conjunction, opening on the rider's upward movement, 
and closing as the rider sinks back into the saddle. The tension in these 
two springs will have the effect of tightening slightly the calf and thigh 
muscles. The rider's loin must be hollowed, and his toe must never be 
ahead of the knee. (This has been pointed out in previous pages dealing 
with the mechanics of the Forward Seat.) During the posting trot the ap- 
plication of these two principles is most essential, as deviation from either 
one of these two rules means posting on the cantle of the saddle behind 
the motion of the horse. This results in banging the horse's back each 
time the rider returns to the saddle. The forward inclination of the rider's 
torso, the fact that his loin is hollow and his knee ahead of his toe will 
make the rider post forward and up, instead of just up and down. 

The experienced rider when posting will let the horse's movement carry 
him up with little effort on his part, just sufficient to skip a beat. He wilf 
post close to the saddle! The beginner on the other hand will have to 
propel himself upward, consciously rising in his stirrups to the rhythm of 
the trot. There is one exception to this rule; when riding with short 
stirrups for ring jumping or fast cross country work even a good rider 
will not be able to post close to the saddle, but will have to rise somewhat 
higher in the stirrups when posting. 

Having had my early riding on short stirrups with a very fonoard 



LEARNING THE FORWARD SEAT 89 

inclination of the body I used to post as fust described, and it took me 
quite a while to master a workmanlike trot close to the saddle. I subse- 
quently found the latter essential when schooling horses. 
The Canter (Pic. 42): The rider's position at the canter is similar to that 
of the sitting phase at the trot. Consequently when starting from the 
trot into the canter the rider will usually stop posting during the transi- 
tion. This also will enable him to apply his aids more effectively. (See 
chapter on INTERMEDIATE CONTROL.) He will have a forward in- 
clination of his body just as when doing the sitting trot, and will main- 
tain his loin under muscular control well hollowed out; his buttocks 




Pic. 42. The canter. (See text) 

therefore will "be pushed out. The ankle spring will be cocked, but the 
knee and hip springs will have little tension; in other words they will 
be again (as in the sitting trot) functioning more as smooth working 
hinges. The horse's head and neck sway considerably at the canter, and 
the rider's arms will follow with piston-like motions centered on the 
two free-playing hinges (a & b). (Pic. 33) 

My main difficulty when cantering lay in getting the knee and hip 
spring to cease functioning as such and become free moving hinges for 
otherwise with tension in knees and hips the position, though very springy 
and strong and well suited to galloping and jumping, is devoid of that 
relaxation which I subsequently found most necessary when schooling in 
the ring. 



90 



COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 



The Gallo.p (Pic. 43): The gallop is a fast gait, the shocks of locomotion in- 
crease considerably therefore the rider's position must be such as to give 
the horse plenty of freedom, and yet give the rider a firm and secure 
position on board the horse. At the gallop the horse uses his forelegs 
as a pole vaulter would use his stick the hindquarters propel the horse 
forward by a series of strong pushes against the ground. The rider must be 
completely out of the saddle although low above it, well forward, and 
in no way interfere with the horse's "motor" his hindquarters. The 
rider's position is, as mentioned above, similar to the suspension period 
of the posting trot, except for a stiffer torso and stronger grip through 
thighs, knees and upper calves. When starting a gallop the rider will get 




Pic. 43. The gallop. (See text) 

out of the saddle and lean forward from his hips keeping as always his 
loin hollowed. He will shorten his reins, in order to maintain the straight 
line from elbow to bit conducive to efficient control. Tension in the three 
springs, hip, knee and ankle (Pic. 29) will increase considerably, and his 
whole position will become more springy and tense. When increasing 
the grip at the gallop the rider should first rise in the stirrups and 
markedly pull his heels down, then grip; otherwise, if he were to grip 
first, he would merely be squeezing himself upward and backward due to 
not having the proper weight in his stirrups. 

The nearest way I can describe my feeling of this tightening in my 
whole body is to compare it with the movement when taking a dive from 
a spring-board. The diver is then tense as a coiled spring. This I found 
much resembled the situation when galloping. The difference is in the 



LEARNING THE FORWARD SEAT 91 

fact that in riding the shoulders, arms, wrists and fingers will continue 
to relax except when deliberately stiffening to control the horse. It be- 
came clear to me what Captain Littauer meant in saying that the For- 
ward Seat in galloping and jumping is not a seat at all it is a dynamic 
attitude. 

Up and Down Hill (Pic. 44): The forward seat in approximately its 
galloping manifestation should be maintained when moving up or down 
hill, although the reasons in each instance are different, and the position 
of the rider differs in details when going up or down. When going up hill 
the rider must be off the saddle to free the horse's back and thus give free 
play to the hindquarters which propel the horse upwards. The reins must 
be completely looe (looping) so as not to interfere with the balancing 




Pic. 44. Going downhill. (See text) 



gestures of the horse's head and neck. If the hill is very steep the rider 
must hold the mane to prevent himself sinking back into the saddle. 

When going down a sharp incline the horse is pulled down by its 
weight and prevents itself from falling by using its forelegs as props. The 
horse's hindquarters are of no assistance whatsoever, for the croup being 
close to the ground the hindlegs are cramped under the belly and cannot 
be of any value as supports. Due to the fact that the cannon bones of the 
hindlegs are at times parallel to the incline (on very steep inclines) the 
horse's hoofs cannot grip the ground to steady the hindquarters, which 
may easily sway to the left or right, even overturning the horse. This is 
the reason why it is very important to go straight down sharp inclines. 
All this means that the hindquarters and back of the horse are in no 
position to support the rider's weight they have trouble enough fending 
for themselves. Hence the rider must stay off the saddle. On the other 



92 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

hand, the loading of the forehand if anything helps the forelegs to be 
efficient props, for the greater the pressure exerted by them against the 
ground, the steadier will be the descent. The reins must be loose and to 
help the steadiness of the seat the rider should put his hands on the crest 
of the horse's neck. Due to the angle of the rider's body in relation to the 
ground and the hands pressed against the horse's neck, the rider's back 
will be slightly rounded. 

All the above statements about rider and horse pertain, in milder form, 
to movement up or down smaller gradients. 

Increase and Decrease of Speed; You will see from Picture 29, I, II, & III 
that with the increase of velocity the rider will increase the amount of 
weight in the stirrups, and his body will lean further forward in order 
to unite with the motion of the horse. In decreasing the velocity the re- 
verse will be true the rider will gradually straighten his torso however, 
he should be careful not to get back of the vertical, where he will be out 
of balance and consequently behind the horse. (Pic. 45, 1 & II.) There will, 
however, be cases when he might find himself back of the vertical, such 
as when the horse bucks or when some sort of fright occurs. But these are 
exceptions, and the golden rule is: BE ALWAYS SLIGHTLY AHEAD 
OF THE PERPENDICULAR. This applies to the horse moving in for- 
ward balance and the rider being correspondingly in a forward position. 
However, when the horse shifts to a central balance, such as when moving 
at collected gaits, the rider must make his center of gravity concur with 
that of the horse. He will therefore sit erect, and there may be times when 
his torso will even be behind the vertical. If he remains forward he will 
be just as much off balance in regard to the horse as the rider who sits 
deep and erect on a horse moving in forward balance. (Pic. 46, I & II.) 
The ability of the rider to change from forward to central position in 
perfect accord with the horse is that fluid balance about which we spoke 
before in this chapter. 

But there are cases when the horse switches his weight so quickly and 
so unexpectedly that the rider can hardly be asked to remain united with 
him from the very beginning. Take, for instance, a last minute refusal 
before a jump; if it is completely unforeseen by the rider, then at the pre- 
cise moment when the horse stops the rider is all set to go forward and in 
most cases will be caught in the forward position. What then will keep 
him from toppling forward? Weight in the heels, grip, and a hollow, tense 
loin may be the three steadying factors. The rider's head should be up 
and his chest out. The rider's head plays its part in his equilibrium; if 
his head is down then his shoulders are rounded and as a result his loin 
will become slack and he may crumple forward, collapsing on the horse's 
neck. Last minute placing of his hands on the horse's neck will also help. 

When writing these lines on sharp decrease of gaits., I reminisce about 
refusals I have had in the normal course of jumping. The times I came 



LEARNING THE FORWARD SEAT 93 

off were not the ones when I remained forward, loin hollow, head up 
and weight in the stirrups. However strong the forward inclination of 
my body, refusals then had no further consequence. But when, through 
some mishap or other, the refusals occurred when my head was down and 
my back round, or when the heels were higher than the toes; then whether 




Pic. 45 



(n) WRONG 

Pic. 46 



sitting forward or back, I still paid the penalty and if I did not find 
myself on the ground, I usually ended up tenderly embracing the horse's 
neck with my face buried in a not too tender mane. 
Backing: The rider's position does not change from that at the walk when 
backing the horse. There is absolutely no sound reason for the rider to 
lean backwards by so doing he merely will press on the horse's back, 
thereby reacting adversely on the movement of the horse's hindquarters. 
Turning, Circling: When moving fast along a curved line (the rider will 



'94 



COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 




Pic. 47 

lean inward toward the turn; he should do so by merely putting his 
weight predominantly on the inside stirrup, not by twisting the hips. This 
allows the rider to synchronize his weight with that of the horse, as the 
horse itself leans inward when turning at speed. (Pic. 47) 
Jumping (Pics. 48, 49 8c 50): A jumping position is fundamentally the same 
as the position for galloping, but with more abrupt and more conspicuous 
momentary changes in the rider's attitude. This fluidity in the rider's po- 
sition is the result of constant shifting of balance on the part of the horse 
and of changes of speed during the jump. The galloping position may be 
preserved almost intact only over a low jump taken at a high speed. 




Pic. 48. The approach to the jump. (See text) 



LEARNING THE FORWARD SEAT 
Primary objects of correct position: 



95 



1) To remain in balance and rhythm with the horse. 

2) Not to interfere with the jumping efforts of the horse's back, and 
hence with the efforts of his hindquarters. 

3) Not to interfere with the jumping efforts of the forehand. 

4) Not to interfere with balancing gestures of the horse's head and 
neck. (They are, by the way, synchronized with the efforts of the 
back.) 

5) To maintain a firm position conducive to control if necessary. 




Pic. 49. The apex of the jump. (See text) 

In early jumping, while the seat lacks balance over tHte obstacle, assist 
yourself by placing your hands on the crest of the middle part of the 
horse's neck (reins loose). If this is not sufficient and you are still unable 
to stay forward hold onto the mane. (Pic. 51) With the horse galloping 
toward the jump quietly yet boldly, place hands on the neck three to four 
strides before the jump and execute the following four points: 

1) Weight in the stirrups (galloping position). Feel your weight going 
into the heels. 

When putting my weight strongly into the stirrups I think it most 
imperative not to shove my lower leg forward, but to concentrate on hav- 
ing the point of the knee ahead of the toe. Pressure against the stirrups 
with a lower leg stuck out means only that 'the rider's weight is back on 
the cantle instead of well forward. I think that the feeling of complete 
independence of the rear portion of the saddle before, during and after 
the jump is a good gauge of one's correct position at the approach. 



96 



COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 




Pic. 50, The landing. (See text) 

2) Make certain that the buttocks are pushed back, and the body is 
sufficiently inclined forward to be in balance in the stirrups. 

As in the previous point I found that while pushing my seat back it 
was most important to keep my stirrups under me supporting all my 
weight; this meant not allowing my lower leg to jut forward or swing too 
far back the ankle being in the correct place and a recipient spring of 
my weight. Another way of putting it is: Feel that your weight is right 
over the stirrups. 




Pic 51 



LEARNING THE FORWARD SEAT 



97 



3) Grip (particularly with upper calves, but also with knees and lower 
thighs). 

4) Head up. This will help you to keep the loin caved in. 
Focusing my eyes on some object beyond and above the obstacle and 

not looking at the fence made this much easier. 

Later on, upon acquiring an easy and firm seat over obstacles, try to 
follow the gestures of the horse's neck by extending the relaxed arms 
forward through the air (instead of putting the hands down on the neck). 
A good way to learn "following" is first to keep the hands pressed against 
the sides of the horse's neck with the reins loose; then gradually to learn 
moving the hands forward during the flight. When you can do this with- 
out disturbing your seat, only then take up the slack in the reins and 




(0 



Pic. 52 



start following. Before you do this first be sure that your seat has become 
quite firm before, during and after the jump. 

When following, the arms move back and forth in piston-like motions 
as shown in Pic. 52, I 8c II. The reins are merely lightly stretched, but not 
pulled. This latter point pertaining to control will be discussed fully in 
Chapter XL 

While "following," all above points of position must be preserved. 

When jumping at speed the horse's trajectory through the air is low 
and long, consequently the rider's position is but little disturbed during 
the whole jump. He approaches, jumps and gallops away without any 
major change in the position of the galloping approach save for the 
piston-like forward thrust of his arms as they follow the balancing 
gestures of the horse's head and neck during the actual jump. How- 
ever, high obstacles taken at slow speed necessitate short and high tra- 
jectories of the horse's body. The rider must adapt himself to this by going 
up and forward in rhythm with the horse. He should not do this by only 



98 



COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 



bending forward from the waist, which, would mean that his weight would 
still remain behind centered in his buttocks; nor should he spring for- 
ward, as the chances are then that he would merely jump ahead of his 
horse with the direst of consequences for himself. The correct way is to 
increase the angle between thigh and lower leg while preserving the for- 
ward inclination of the body. With the rider's weight in the stirrups this 
will mean that he will be thrust up and forward during the jump. Pic. 
53, I & II. 




When jumping at the trot it will be necessary for the rider to stop post- 
ing and assume the galloping position during the approach in order to 
prepare himself for the jump with strong tension in the springs a, b 8c c, 
Pic. 29. 

There are no mechanical reasons whatsoever for changing the rider's 
attitude during a drop jump or when jumping down or uphill. The ani- 
mal instinct of self-preservation may make us lean back as the horse jumps 
down from a bank, but it will certainly not help the horse. Instead it will 
reward the poor animal for its efforts with a painful thump on the loins. 

A good seat is the result of a certain set of well established habits, and 
it is difficult to alter these at a moment's notice. The Dressage Seat and 
the Forward Seat do not mix well, because the balance of the first is 
based in the saddle but that of the second primarily in the stirrups. 
Most attempts to switch in short order from a dressage seat to a forward 
seat and back again, or vice versa, are usually unsuccessful, although 
there are a few riders capable of doing so. 

Any attempt to teach the Forward Seat for only jumping, and conse- 
quently only while jumping, can rarely be successful, because the dura- 
tion of the jump is too short and the number of jumps that can be 
taken at one session without abusing the horse too few. Thirty jumps 
during a lesson are enough for any horse, and because each jump lasts 
only a couple of seconds the pupil would have no more than a total of 
one minute's practice in the Forward Seat per lesson. On the other 
hand, consistent use of the Forward Seat in its different variations for 
different gaits and movements prepare the rider's muscles and balance 
for the Forward Seat on the jump. 



CHAPTER VII 

Bringing Control Down to Earth and Forward 

Teaching civilians was a very different matter from teaching troopers 
in the army. My American pupils asked questions, sometimes refused to 
obey orders, didn't take kindly to hard work and wanted quick practical 
results effortlessly achieved. The questions could range from "why do I 
have to learn this? I don't see what good it will do me," to a technical and 
often intelligent pulling apart of paragraphs in the text books on riding. 
Disobedience could range from the case of a lady who refused to kick a 
stubbornly immobile horse, saying "I'm afraid he will turn his head and 
bite me/' to "I can't jump today; I was up late last night and I'm tired/' And 
even if a teacher didn't pay much attention either to arguments or to 
disobediences, the general desire to learn effortlessly and quickly, and only 
practical things, was so strong that simply in order to remain in business 
one had to look for means of bettering existing teaching methods. The 
progressive development of my method depended as much on these prac- 
tical considerations as on my idealistic ambitions. 

Answering pupils' questions, by the way, required a knack. While reply- 
ing to the query of one pupil I had always to watch the faces of the rest 
of my class, because, the mentalities varying, a perfectly reasonable con- 
versation on one level between one pupil and myself could sound quite 
absurd to somone else in the group. I could easily find myself in the situ- 
ation described in the story of two country bumpkins dining in a fashion- 
able New York restaurant. When the finger bowls were served, one of 
them, against the strong opposition of the other, called the waiter and 
asked him "What do you do with these things?" "You dip your fingers 
in them sir, and wipe them off with the napkins," replied the waiter. "You 
see," said the other man, "if you ask foolish questions you get foolish 
answers." 

The matter of changing the control from the Classical to the one which 
better fits cross-country riding and jumping was a yet more complicated 
task than to change the seat. The fact that control is in general a far more 
complicated subject than position, probably accounts for forward control 
being still relatively little understood, while the Forward Seat is universally 
recognized. Therefore, quite naturally, the transitional period even among 
superior, thoughtful riders is bound to be quite a long-drawn-out process. 

When around 1930, I reached the stage of dissatisfaction with old "clas- 
sical" ideas it was not easy to find books on modern control or teachers 
who taught it. Even such an enlightened institution as the United States 

99 



100 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

Cavalry School had not yet completely switched to the new. While the 
army team under the leadership of Lt. Colonel H. D. Chamberlin was 
Illustrating modern riding brilliantly at Madison Square Garden, the Fort 
Riley manual, vintage of 1929 was a quarter of a century behind. As in 
any transitional period, consistency was not to be found. 

To any horseman who likes to know what makes the wheels go around 
an illustration of how ideas changed is, of course, of interest and for 
such of my readers I have included the next couple of pages which will 
give them a sample of how the new ideas replaced the old ones. But if 
you are not interested in this historical information you may skip it and 
your riding be none the worse. 

Barretto de Souza once said that "any fool can make the horse go; it 
takes a rider to stop him." So let me give you, as an illustration of the 
transition from classical to forward riding, a description of the change 
which took place in the understanding of how the horse should be halted. 
Fort Riley manual (edition 1929, page 51) says: 

"TO HALT. . . . Being at a walk, at the command Squad the rider 
gathers the horse. At the command HALT, he uses the direct reins and 
the weight in combination and with quickly repeated applications, until 
the horse halts. The rider's legs remain in normal position. 

"In using the weight, the rider should keep the buttocks in the saddle, 
the legs in their proper position, and should carry the upper part of the 
body backward repeatedly by bending hinge-like, at the waist . . ." 

There is no use of quoting this description any further, the gathering 
of the horse to halt him, and the hinge-like repeated bending of the body 
backward (as a rule) just wouldn't mix with the principles of the forward 
seat. 

But this manual was on its last legs and it was soon to be replaced by 
a new one which explained the halt in the following manner: 

". . . halting . . . the rider must not lean back. If necessary, the for- 
ward inclination of the body decreases just sufficiently to enable the rider 
to remain in balance." 

The above quotations mean that if the horse stops gradually, preserv- 
ing forward balance, then the rider decreases his inclination forward just 
enough to correspond to the diminished speed of the movement. But if 
the horse stops abruptly, switching the preponderance of his weight to the 
engaged hindquarters then, in order to remain united with the horse, the 
rider may decrease his inclination forward to the point where his torso 
will be vertical to the ground. This by the way is the presently accepted 
technique. 

Unfortunately, from my point of view, the above description of the 
halt included a finesse which was absolutely impractical for my work. The 
old pulling back on the reins assisted by the weight of the body, was, in 
this text, replaced by no pull at all only fixed hands. 

"To execute the halt, from the walk, the action of the hands must be 



BRINGING CONTROL FORWARD 101 

changed from lightness to fixity and resistance of the fingers. If the horse 
halts, the desired result is obtained. If however, he is but slightly trained, he 
generally raises his neck in slowing up. The rider then draws his hands to 
the rear or shortens his reins in order to maintain contact with his mouth, 
and again fixes his hands until the horse halts. Care should be taken that 
the rearward action of the hands does not at any time precede the retro- 
grade movement of the mouth, as in such a case there would be traction 
on the reins, which, as has been shown, must never be the case. ..." 

While I personally appreciated the above method of using hands in 
halting, my daily life in the riding ring convinced me that it was on too 
high a plane for my average pupils. A soft halting by merely fixing the 
hands just wouldn't work on half-schooled, strong, ambitious horses, 
especially when ridden in company and by light-weight girls whose fixed 
hand didn't amount to much. 

In sharp contrast to the above quoted refinements was my own method 
of the period which, catering to the average amateur rider, was overem- 
phasizing simplifications and often leaving a good, ambitious rider with- 
out any advice. In BE A BETTER HORSEMAN (published 1941), on page 23, 
the following conversation takes place about halting the horse: 

"INSTRUCTOR: . . . Look, Miss Randall, how differently you and I have 
stopped our horses. Your horse has raised his neck and head, pulled it to 
the side, and opened his mouth, while my horse kept his mouth shut, did 
not change the natural position of his neck and head, and came to a stop 
softly. 

"ANNE: I know why; your horse obeyed you and mine resisted and 
wanted to go ahead in spite of my pulling on the reins; and then I had 
to pull very hard. 

"INSTRUCTOR: That might have been so, but it is also possible that you 
pulled very heavily. When pulling on the reins to slow down, turn, back 
or stop you should never pull consistently for any length of time; you 
should increase and decrease the tension on the reins so that the bit moves 
in the horse's mouth . . . The increase and decrease of tension which I 
have described is known as 'give and take'; its reactions in the horse's 
mouth are as follows: when the reins take, then the bit presses in the cor- 
ners of the mouth, and when they give, then the bit slides down a little. 
This keeps the mouth sensitive. And another thing the fact that your 
horse's neck and head not only went up, but to the side as well, makes me 
suspect that you have pulled on one rein more than on the other. Unless 
the horse himself tries to bring his head into a crooked position, the rider's 
pull should be even on both reins." 

Even if we were to consider that a halt which includes "give and take" 
is a tremendous improvement on the standards of the average riding of 
today, this description is inadequate, for it leaves a more ambitious rider 
without any information. 

What happened to the halt was typical of what happened to principles 



102 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

of control in general In this transition period. It was simply impossible 
for anyone to strike the perfect note at the first attempt. 

It was only approximately six years ago that I was able really to crys- 
tallize the subject of control by dividing it in three categories: elemen- 
tary, intermediate and advanced, with their respective applications for 
different types of riding. Here is how I did it. 

Elementary control is necessary for: 

1) guidance of horses while learning position. 

2) in many cases it may be sufficient for hacking quiet, obedient 
horses. 

Intermediate control: 

1) will make hacking more pleasant; 

2) is necessary in the hunting field for an average rider who wishes to 
avoid making a fool of himself. 

3) is necessary for horse shows; it will give a rider a better chance 
to win. 

4) is sufficient for simple schooling of hacks, hunters and jumpers. 
Advanced control: 

1) is necessary to obtain from a schooled horse the highest quality of 
performance that he is capable of. 

2) is necessary in making superior hunters and jumpers. 

The following table (No. II) gives detailed definitions of these three 
grades of control as I use them in my teaching. I believe that this table 
adjusts this elusive subject to the practical aims of different groups of 
civilian riders. It also greatly increases the efficiency of lessons. 

Efficient as tables are for presenting a complicated subject in a concise 
form, usually some additional text is necessary to explain their practical 
application. So here are a few pages about what this table should mean to 
the three groups of riders which are the subject of this book: those who 
hack, those who hunt and show in jumping classes, and those who, besides 
hunting and showing, school hunters and jumpers, aiming to obtain truly 
good gaits, great agility and athletic jumping. 

1) ELEMENTARY CONTROL 

You will notice that the table implies that elementary control should 
consist of controlling the horse quietly, effectively, perhaps roughly at 
times, and going on loose reins between the periods when control is 
necessary to change gaits, speeds, etc. I know that these "loose reins" will 
raise many objections; I know that to riders brought up in riding acad- 
emies where the horses could hardly be held in check by strong bits and 
often strenuous means, I may seem to be someone who only yesterday got 
acquainted with horses. In actuality I know very many riding schools 
where a class of half a dozen or even a dozen will walk, trot, canter and 
jump low obstacles following each other on loose reins, a good half of 



BRINGING CONTROL FORWARD 

TABLE II 



GENERAL AIMS. 



RIDER'S LEGS. 



ARMS AND 
HANDS. 



VOICE 
COMMANDS. 

GAITS. (GEN- 
ERAL CONSID- 
ERATIONS) 



WALK. 



TROT. 



ELEMENTARY 
CONTROL 

Authority over the 
horse through definite 
and quick control in 
primitively executed 
gaits, transitions, 
halts, turns, backing 
and in simple low 
jumping. 

Roughness is permis- 
sible when elemen- 
tary rider is unable to 
obtain results by gen- 
tle means. 

Tapping or kicking to 
urge the horse for- 
ward. 



Riding on loose or 
semi-loose reins out- 
side the moments 
when giving orders. 

Liberal use of voice 
to give orders and to 
talk to the horse. 

Even speed on loose reins, 
most of the time. The 
horse relaxed to the 
point of almost being 
lazy. 



Steady, ordinary walk 
on the line. Loose 
reins whenever possi- 
ble. 

Ordinary trot, even 
speed, on the line. 
Loose reins whenever 
possible. 



INTERMEDIATE 
CONTROL 

Soft and precise con- 
trol over gaits, transi- 
tions, all recognized 
movements and in 
jumping whether in a 
ring, outside, hunting 
or showing. 
Primary aim: a soft 
but definite coopera- 
tion of rider's hands 
and legs with horse's 
efforts and reactions. 

Mostly merely squeez- 
ing with calves; vary- 
ing the pressures 
depending on cir- 
cumstances. 

A soft contact with 
horse's mouth; arms 
following the balanc- 
ing gestures. 
Give and take. 

If necessary on oc- 
casion. Also when 
teaching a horse. 

Relaxed, alert, soft at 
all speeds. On contact 
most of the time, with 
the neck and head 
stretched forward. 



Free, fast, relaxed walk 
with head and neck 
extended, on soft con- 
tact withf allowing arms 
and give and take. 

Three speeds at trot: 
slow, ordinary, fast. 
Soft contact with neck 
and head extended. 
Give and take. 



103 



ADVANCED 
CONTROL 

Primary aim: a, high 
quality of horse's per- 
formance in school- 
ing, hunting or show- 
ing. 



Same as intermediate 
but at times in full 
cooperation with hands. 



Same as intermediate 
plus at times on the 
bit and using flexions. 



Liberal use of voice 
in schooling; on occa- 
sion in riding. 

Same as intermediate 
plus: Movement of high 
quality maintained 
throughout the per- 
formance. 

Occasionally on the bit. 
Flexions in slowing 
down. 
Semi-collection. 

Same as intermediate 
plus: continuous good 
movement and a few 
steps of semi-collected 
walk with flexions. 

Same as intermediate 
plus: the best possi- 
ble movement; slowing 
down with flexions; 
occasionally on the bit; 
few steps of semi- 
collected trot; a few 
steps of semi-extended 
trot. 



104 



COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 



TABLE II (Continued) 



GALLOP. 



TRANSITIONS. 



HALTS. 



TURNS WITH 

MOVEMENT 

FORWARD. 



HALF-TURN ON 
THE FOREHAND. 



ELEMENTARY 
CONTROL 

Ordinary canter only. 
Even speed; loose 
reins whenever pos- 
sible. On the line. 
Canter departure ex- 
ecuted promptly even 
if roughly, but keep- 
ing the horse's neck 
and head straight. No 
specific lead is re- 
quired, 

Quick and precise (at 
a designated point). 
Rough i necessary to 
obtain the above re- 
sults. Return to loose 
reins as quickly as 
possible. 



Quick and definite, at 
a desired point, even 
if rough. Horse re- 
laxed at a halt; reins 
loose. 

Wide turns, wide cir- 
cles, entirely by means 
of reins. 



On loose reins, except 
for the short moments 
of checking. 



INTERMEDIATE 
CONTROL 

Three speeds at gal- 
lop: slow, ordinary, 
fast. On soft contact, 
neck and head ex- 
tended; following 
arms. Give and take. 
Soft canter departure 
on a desired lead. 
Change of leads with 
interruption. 



Soft, gradual but pre- 
cise. Neck and head 
extended at all times. 



Gradual, soft and pre- 
cise. Neck and head 
extended. Give and 
take. The horse stands 
still on loose reins. 

Turns of normal size, 
the horse ) properly 
led by rider's legs and 
hands. Larger turns 
at speed. 

On contact with neck 
and head extended 
and straight. From a 
halt; later from a 
walk. 



ADVANCED 
CONTROL 

Same as intermedi- 
ate plus: consistently 
good movement; slow- 
ing down with flex- 
ions; few steps of 
semi-collected gallop; 
occasionally on the 
bit. A flying change 
of leads. 



Good movement 
maintained to last 
stride of first gait and 
restored almost on 
first stride of new one. 
On the bit when in- 
creasing the speed; 
slowing down with 
flexions. 

Soft, precise through 
flexions. Some abrupt. 



Same as intermedi- 
ate. Good movement 
preserved throughout 
the turn. 



On soft contact. Neck 
extended. From a 
halt, later from a 
walk. 




Pic. 54. A trot on "loose reins" (stabilization). 




Pic. 55. A trot on "soft contact." 




Pic. 56. A trot "on the bit." 



Pics. 54, 55 & 56. The same horse in three different manifestations of the ordi- 
nary trot show:-^ 

1) How the mental alertness of the horse increases (you can see it by his face) 
with the increased efforts of the rider's aids; 

2) How the physical alertness of the horse increases; 

3) How a sloppy movement when on loose reins becomes not only alert but 
"well-connected" when the horse is ridden on the bit. 

The movement on the bit is the best for almost any individual performance but 
in many cases it will be much too stimulated for the hunting field where riding 



BRINGING CONTROL FORWARD 



105 



TABLE II (Continued) 



ELEMENTARY 
CONTROL 



HALF -TURN ON Omit. 
THE HAUNCHES, 



BACKING. 



COUNTER- 
GALLOP. 



SHORT TURN 
AT GALLOP. 

Two TRACKS. 



Only four steps, 
straight if possible. 



Omit. 



Omit. 



Omit. 



JUMPING. 



Fences 2i/ / ~3 / . 
Mostly single obsta- 
cles. Loose reins dur- 
ing the approach and 
during the jump. 
Holding mane. 



INTERMEDIATE 
CONTROL 

On contact with neck 
and head extended 
and straight. From a 
halt, and while walk- 
ing. 



Soft backing a few 
steps by means of give 
and take with head 
and neck extended, 
mouth closed., body 
straight. From a walk 
resuming the walk. 

Large circles, Serpen- 
tine and Zig-zag on 
soft contact. Relaxed 
horse. 

On contact, with 
straight neck and 
head. 

A few steps on soft 
contact with neck and 
head extended. At a 
walk and trot. 



Fences 3'-4>. Differ- 
ent combinations of 
obstacles and courses. 
Soft contact during 
the approach; loose 
reins on the jump. 
Hands on horse's 
neck. 



ADVANCED 
CONTROL 

In about four united 
steps with one fore 
leg crossing in front 
of the other and ani- 
mated hindquarters. 
From a halt, while 
walking and after a 
short stop during trot 
or canter. 

On soft contact; the 
head straight or 
slightly turned to- 
ward the direction of 
the movement. 

Backing a definite 
number of steps, in 
some cases, by means 
of flexions. 
From all gaits; always 
resuming the inter- 
rupted gait. 

Same as intermediate. 



Same as intermediate. 



At a walk and trot 
with a good move- 
ment forward and to 
the side. On soft con- 
tact, sometimes on 
the bit. 

Any height that horse 
can take. Any course. 
On loose reins, soft 
contact or on the bit, 
whichever may be the 
best in the particular 
case. With following 
arms. 



FIELD RIDING. Hacking. 



Hacking, hunting, 
showing, cross-coun- 
try competitions. 
Also a somewhat sim- 
plified schooling of 
hacks, hunters and 
jumpers. 



Hacking, hunting, 
showing, cross coun- 
try competitions. 
Also superior school- 
ing of hacks, hunters 
and junipers. 



106 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

the class keeping their proper distances. In my personal experience at 
least 80% of the horses which were in my hands, school horses, hunters 
and open jumpers, hacked on loose reins. This is very easy to achieve 
with an average horse, particularly with half-breds, but only under one 
condition, that the horses are not in the habit of being abused physically 
or mentally; that is, that no rider ever pulls on their mouths consistently, 
jerks them most of the ride, kicks them with the heels when a squeeze 
with the calves would be sufficient, asks them to gallop full tilt one second, 
then walk a few steps only to make a mad rush again, and in general be- 
haves in the saddle like a wild Indian. 

Hence it follows that a riding school can supply for its pupils quiet 
hacks only providing the education of these pupils has been sensible from 
the very start, and that riding on loose reins was a rule while learning 
how to sit. Obviously it is the only efficient way to behave while learning 
position, for it teaches one to establish balance in the saddle without 
abusing the horse by hanging on his mouth. The beginner may, and often 
should, help himself by holding the inane, but the sensitive bars of. the 
mouth should be left alone. Using this method the teacher kills two birds 
with one stone pupils learn to sit correctly very quickly and horses ac- 
quire the habit of going quietly, evenly and obediently on loose reins. 
Riders and horses brought up this way can hack together on loose reins 
most of the time, to the mutual satisfaction of both parties. To ride on soft 
contact requires the ability to follow with the arms the balancing gestures 
of the horse's neck and head and the knowledge of how to give and take; 
these points are outside the scope of a possible beginner's knowledge. 
More will be said about this riding on loose reins in the chapter on how 
to teach position, while here, once more and very emphatically, I want to 
state that it is very easy to achieve. Any riding instructor who has a head 
on his shoulders can get his horses and pupils organized along these lines, 
and those who can't have no right to be in business. 

Although the ability of the rider to ride on loose reins, and the calmness 
and responsiveness of the horse which makes this possible, are the founda- 
tion of any type of riding, no matter how high its aims, loose reins when 
used exclusively and as an ultimate spell primitiveness. Hence for a more 
discriminating rider who, although no longer a beginner, still limits his 
riding to hacking, I would suggest learning intermediate control. Of 
course to enjoy the effects of this finer control, a better schooled horse 
will be necessary; the fine points of the rider's control will be wasted on 
a horse which for years has been guided in a primitive manner. In the 
great majority of cases a better-schooled horse means a privately owned 
one. As a pretty general rule the hacks from livery stables, being ridden 
by all sorts and kinds cannot be decently schooled horses and the knowl- 
edge of intermediate control will be wasted on them. While a few such 
horses, being old and tired, will go on loose reins, others will be young, 
nervously upset, and will have to be held back all the time. Some igncr* 



BRINGING CONTROL FORWARD 207 

rant people consider these poor, nervous wrecks better horses and get a 
great kick out of the excitement of riding them. This attitude of a 
mounted pedestrian is rather common among young, bold people who 
ride occasionally without ever having taken riding and horses to their 
heart. If you should be unfortunate enough to find yourself riding one 
of these spoiled horses (very few horses are nervous by nature) the best 
that you could do would be to feel the moments when the reins might be 
loosened, hoping that this comfort would have a soothing effect, that 
gradually the horse would become calmer, and rather consistent riding 
on loose reins possible. In handling such cases the knowledge of inter- 
mediate control is very helpful, for in studying it, through different 
exercises, the rider's feeling of the horse and the cooperation of his legs 
and hands with the efforts of the horse are developed. 

Although a knowledge of intermediate control is not absolutely essential 
for hacking (just as a Cadillac is not essential for getting there) if you 
have your own horse then applying the rules of intermediate control will 
make your horse perform better and gradually, even without any benefit 
of special schooling, it will become a better balanced, a softer, a more 
responsive, a more pleasant horse to ride. In other words, a consistent 
use of a finer type of control is in itself a form of schooling minus the 
gymnastics of a regular schooling program. 

All over the country, in small communities, there are people, both 
adults and children, who own their hacks, often take care of them them- 
selves, and ride them pleasantly without any technical knowledge of how 
to control a horse. In their quiet riding, which is unabusive to the horse, 
the efficiency of control is based on well-established mutual confidence; here 
a pat, there a word or two, are more effective in such cases than a pull on 
the reins. This love of the animal and the understanding of his mentality 
and emotions is always pleasant to observe and one could only wish that 
the knowledge of control on an intermediate level could be added to this 
ideal type of association between the mount 'and his rider. 

An , understanding of the horse's mentality is extremely important in 
schooling. As a rule its consideration distinguishes a good trainer from a 
bad one, but such simple things as that the horse is easily upset by a 
rapid succession of orders, by sudden and frequent changes of speeds and, 
once upset by a certain behavior of the rider will remember it for a long 
time, should be appreciated even by riders who ride on the elementary 
level. Through a considerate behavior in the saddle, which a horse will 
remember as well as a disturbing one, one can build up the horse's confi- 
dence to the point where minimum and truly elementary control with 
hands and legs will be all that will be necessary to go through woods and 
across fields. 

I have discussed the psychology of the horse in Chapter II, and more will 
be said about it in the chapter on schooling. I wish there were enough in- 
formation on the subject to fill a special chapter but there isn't. About 



108 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

five years ago I read somewhere that experiments had been made on the 
mentality of cockroaches. This intrigued me and I decided to find out if 
any such thing had heen done scientifically with horses. And so I went to 
the Museum of Natural History in New York City, to consult one o its 
curators. To him, in 1930, 1 had addressed the question why horses jump 
so badly by comparison with many other animals, particularly of the cat 
family. He had answered ail my questions very thoroughly and interest- 
ingly from the point of view of archaeological background. I remember 
how impressed I was by his ability to pick a little bone out of a huge heap 
of such that he had on a table and immediately identify it as such-and- 
such a vertebra of a horse which had lived so many million years ago. 
The curator was an old man then and, older by fifteen years when I saw 
him again, was still occupied with assembling skeletons. When I posed 
my question whether the mentality of the horse had ever been analyzed 
scientifically he was discouragingly honest, answering: "I don't know 
and, frankly, I don't care; I'm interested in dead horses only/' During the 
course of that afternoon in the museum I found that no one thus far had 
been interested. So all that we know on the subject is what some of us 
have observed through years of association with horses. It boils down to 
something like ten points (such as strong herd instinct, tenacious memory, 
limited mentality, etc.) on which the majority seem to agree and I doubt 
that it represents anything like all that could be known. 

2) INTERMEDIATE CONTROL 

The difference between intermediate and elementary control is immense 
and boils down to an additional knowledge of how to ride the horse on 
soft contact with give and take and following arms, keeping the neck and 
head extended, plus the ability to make all the movements and transitions 
precisely and softly. All this obviously involves the cooperation of the 
rider's legs and hands with the efforts of the horse's body. This coopera- 
tion has to be developed and don't deceive yourself that you can attain 
it by merely riding. As actuality shows, one can hack or hunt for years 
without ever reaching this harmonious activity of the rider's legs and 
hands and the horse's muscles. This cooperation can be developed in the 
rider efficiently only by doing exercises such as the increase and decrease 
of speeds at the gaits, making varied turns, changing leads, two-tracking, 
etc. All these exercises, if aiming at precision and softness, develop the 
rider's control, and at the same time constitute a schooling gymnastic for 
horses. This always seems very fortunate to me, as the rider is formed 
through true horseman's exercises. 

One can begin to learn intermediate control only after he has learned: 
a) from the point of view of position: how to sit correctly and firmly 
enough so that neither holding the mane nor hanging on the horse's 
mouth is necessary; b) from the point of view of control: how to hack a 
quiet, cooperative horse effectively on loose reins most of the time. 



BRINGING CONTROL FORWARD 109 

The first point to learn when switching from elementary to intermedi- 
ate control Is to ride on soft contact with following arms; at a walk and 
gallop, these two Items are inseparable, and this is why: do you remember 
the third chapter? the chapter on the balance of the horse in motion, 
the understanding of which I then presented as the foundation stone of the 
whole method of Forward Riding? Well, here we have a good Illustra- 
tion of this statement. As you probably know, during the walk and gal- 
lop, as well as on the jump, the horse makes balancing gestures with the 
neck and head; it is only during the trot, the most stable gait, that the 
neck and head remain practically immobile. If one rides on completely 
loose reins then the hands don't Interfere with these balancing gestures. 
But once contact Is established between the rider's hands and the horse's 
mouth, then the rider's arms must follow through the air these gestures 
of the horse's neck and head. The final touch to this soft contact with 
following is given by the occasional opening and closing of the fingers 
which results In the displacement of the bit in the horse's mouth and is 
called "give and take." By means of this give and take really soft slowing 
downs, halts and backing, as well as the regulation of gaits, can be 
achieved. 

While riding on soft contact, it is Important to keep the horse's neck 
and head extended; only when extended is the neck in a position to de- 
liver powerful balancing gestures. However, when slowing down and 
halting, particularly when It Is done abruptly, the neck may go up and 
back a little while the head may come in somewhat; the latter as a result 
of the flexion of the poll. 

A horse that has been schooled on the principles of intermediate control 
will not become a great athlete but will unquestionably be a horse with 
better gaits, more flexibility, softness and obedience than is exhibited by 
the actual hunters, horse show hunters and open jumpers of today. A 
rider who possesses such a horse and who himself knows how to ride well 
along the principles of Intermediate control should be able to make better 
performances than the average rider of today who merely hunts and shows. 
The question is: Is it difficult? Does it take too much time to learn? Here 
are the answers and I shall begin at the beginning. 

If one is young (but not a child) with normal physique and average 
boldness, and has a good Instructor with a well-organized school, one can 
learn in fifteen lessons how to sit decently and how to hack school horses 
on loose reins. I have already stated that some riding schools are able to 
accomplish it in as few hours. To be on the safe side let us add another 
five lessons, so that if one rides three times a week, in about seven weeks 
one may be ready to begin to learn intermediate control. In the majority 
of cases, however, an interim period of two or three months of plain hack- 
ing may be necessary to acquire the so important habits and feelings as 
distinct from the technique alone. After this I am unable to give you very 
exact figures. For the success of learning finer control depends tremen- 



110 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

dously on the ability of the rider to feel the horse, and on the speed and 
accuracy of his reflexes to these feelings. This may vary greatly from in- 
dividual to individual, but I would say that in a great many cases it can 
be accomplished in thirty to forty hours of lessons and homework (in 
the saddle). Upon achieving it a person would be doing superior hacking, 
but would he be ready to begin hunting? Yes, in some cases. In cases 
where the physique of the rider is such that his seat, besides being correct 
and easy to work from, is a secure one. Those riders whose conformation 
unfortunately doesn't give them this advantage will have to hack and 
jump for three or four months more (without taking lessons) before be- 
ginning to hunt. Will this person, who was a rank beginner eight or nine 
months ago, ride better in the hunting field during his first months at it 
than those who have done it for years, although without any equestrian 
education? In the majority of cases the answer is no; new surroundings, a 
probably changed behavior of the horse in the excitement of the chase, 
inexperience in judging terrain, etc. will require time to make adjustments 
and only after one is acclimated will one really begin to benefit by his 
training. 

I would like to say once more that many hunt without any knowledge 
of intermediate control, but merely on the principle of the elementary 
one to which a bold character, years of experience, etc. are added. This 
is done all over the world and from the point of view of undiscriminating 
riders is done successfully. If one were to place one's self on such an undis- 
criminating, primitive level, then one would feel that hunting a green 
horse is about the apex of human achievement. Hence it is generally 
practiced and the abomination of such performances is not noticed, 
while the human daring is greatly admired. Technically such perform- 
ances don't depend on knowledge; many fine riders would not be able to 
do it; it depends on a great deal of experience which develops a certain 
knack. 

3) ADVANCED CONTROL 

The principal difference between intermediate and advanced control 
lies in the aims. While the former aims primarily at softness of control 
without considering the quality of the movements and gaits of the horse, 
the latter aims at producing good movement at the gaits and in jumping. 
In order to obtain a good movement advanced control calls for riding at 
times on the bit with flexions, as well as obtaining, in schooling, a few 
steps of semi-collected gaits. It seems to be little, but it is in reality a great 
deal. 

"On the bit" means increasing the merely soft contact of intermediate 
control to the point where the action of the hindquarters becomes con- 
iiected in motion with the action of the forehand. If the action of the 
rider's legs produces energy in the horse's hindquarters in such a way 



BRINGING CONTROL FORWARD 111 

that this energy going forward through the horse's body reaches the head 
which extends and takes the bit, then it results in a perfect connection 
(in movement) of the horse's quarters and forehand. This connected 
movement (not collected) on the bit, with the horse's neck and head ex- 
tended is the basis of good movement. Riding this way one can develop 
the horse's movement to its very best. Teaching the horse to go on the bit 
when moving ahead should be developed together with flexions of the 
mouth (flexions are taught after the horse has taken the bit) when slow- 
ing down or stopping; if not, moving on the bit may degenerate into 
pulling. 

In general the purpose of advanced control in the abstract is to make 
the horse perform at its best. "At its best" is, of course, a big term, and 
to achieve such results one has to be an artist in the saddle and spend a 
great deal of time on schooling. Since this is outside the scope of all but 
a few riders, the aims of advanced control, as they are brought down to 
earth in this book, are merely to concentrate the attention of the rider 
on improving the typically clumsy, stiff movement of a horse which has 
only been broken and ridden but never really schooled. 

A good performance chiefly consists in efficient movement which is the 
result of long, flat, relaxed strides. Besides this the characteristics of a 
good performance are general agility and athletic jumping. The horse's 
agility largely depends on his ability to gather or extend himself, depend- 
ing on the circumstances, and this is why a few steps of partially-collected 
gaits, practically always followed by extensions, are an important part of 
advanced control. Athletic jumping depends on good balance, good 
movement, general agility plus a special knowledge of how to utilize the 
above items when negotiating an obstacle* 

Much more about this advanced riding will be said in the chapters on 
advanced riding and on schooling. Here I merely want to say that it is 
not necessary for hacking, nor hunting, nor the average showing of jump- 
ers, but there is nothing pleasanter than to have a really well-schooled 
hack or hunter, and it may be at times of advantage even in normal 
American jumping competitions. 

In actual teaching or schooling there is often an overlap between 
the Intermediate and the Advanced levels of riding. Tor instance, a 
horse who is naturally an excellent mover may show a high quality at 
gaits while being an intermediate horse in every other respect. Or a 
horse with a certain conformation may be able to make abrupt halts 
efficiently even before he is fully on the bit and has learned to respond 
to aids on the advanced level. 

The same is true of the riders some will be able to use "following 
arms'* over fences while otherwise still riding on the intermediate level 

All such instances of progress due to specific natural abilities should, 



1 12 COMMON SENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

of course be encouraged and this is where the teacher or the trainer 
must exhibit the flexibility of his thinking and of his method. 

A horse schooled on an advanced level and ridden by an advanced rider 
will make a truly good performance whether in the hunting field or in a 
horse show ring. The same horse given to an intermediate rider will drop 
back to an intermediate level probably within from three to five months. 
But the same horse ridden by a harsh, abusive, unintelligent rider may 
become upset and lose all the good qualities of his former performance 
within a couple of weeks, 

The feeling of the horse, and quick and correct muscular reflexes in 
response to these feelings, plus consideration of the horse's mentality and 
his physique, constitute what we call equestrian tact. Some people are born 
with the seeds of these qualities, others, unfortunately, are not; in both 
cases they can be developed; in the first one, of course, to a much higher 
degree. The higher the ambitions of the rider, the more important the 
possession of equestrian tact becomes. Practice, love of the animal, think- 
ing of him, and experience in riding with better movements in view, will 
develop this quality more quickly and efficiently than listening to a 
teacher or reading books. It takes two to play the game of teaching riding; 
certain things a teacher can teach, others a pupil has to learn by himself 
with merely the assistance of the teacher. Tact is too illusive to be pre- 
sented in the form of a table, it is one of those very important intangibles. 
The easiest way for me to convey its subtlety is by telling the story of the 
hotel manager who was explaining to the bell hops the difference between 
politeness and tact. "Suppose," said he, "you enter a bedroom and you 
see a naked woman; then you say, 'Excuse me, sir/ Now the excuse me part 
is politeness, while the sir is tact/' 

It shouldn't take a person who knows intermediate control more than 
ten lessons, with a couple of hours of practice between each lesson, to 
learn the additional points of advanced control (riding an advanced 
horse) as they are presented in this book. It won't take more time than 
this providing a person is able and has some equestrian tact. Some, of 
course, never make the grade. 



In a special chapter my pupil and collaborator Alexis Wrangel will 
tell in detail how to control the horse on the intermediate level, and I 
myself in another will take up the subject of advanced control, while at 
present I would like to set down the fundamentals of both these grades of 
control. 

Naturally the first consideration is the horse; that is, his character, the 
peculiarities of his conformation (as limiting factors), and his balance, 
as the basis of the mechanics of his way of moving. The first two items we 
will consider again in the chapter on schooling (we have discussed them 
both already), but the matter of balance is so important that I would like 



BRINGING CONTROL FORWARD IB 

to give you some additional information about it, even though repeating 
myself here and there. 

The horse's weight is not evenly distributed throughout his body. If 
you were to take a well-bred horse, put him on two scales, one under the 
forehand and the other under his hindquarters, and note the distribution 
of weight at the moment the horse is relaxed, standing with stretched 
neck, you would see that almost 3/5 of the weight is carried by the 
forehand. In motion yet more weight will be shifted to the forehand and 
even* beyond, so that the hindquarters, the seat of propulsion, are free 
to push the horse ahead. The same thing is extremely well said in HORSE- 
MANSHIP AND HORSEMASTERSHIP (1945 edition, page 54): 

". . . the action, which places the center of gravity near the shoulders 
and removes it from the hindquarters, greatly favors movement. In fact, 
the more the center of gravity is advanced, the greater the forward effort 
of the hindquarters in movement to the front. Moreover, this displacement 
of the center of gravity tends to cause the horse to move from his base of 
support, so that the forces of gravity draw the mass forward at the same 
time that the hindquarters push it in the same direction. In this the leg 
movements of the horse are extended. ... In the case where the equilib- 
rium is over the shoulders the hindquarters . . . can only push (the 
mass) forward and which (the mass) is itself constantly drawn forward 
by its weight, like the body of a man in a bent forward position. . . ." 

The above statements must really be digested and memorized to the 
point where you will feel an instinctive necessity to let the horse stretch 
his neck forward, and to follow the balancing gestures of the neck and 
head with your arms when moving ahead, 

As to how to execute this or that movement, for instance how to turn 
the horse or how to back him, there are certain formulae which will be 
discussed in the next chapters. But these recipes will work well only pro- 
viding the horse is schooled and answers correctly to the signals of the 
rider's legs and hands. And even if the signals are given correctly and 
the horse is familiar with them, not much good will come of them if the 
orders are given mechanically without feeling the horse that is, without 
what is usually called "equestrian tact/" On the other hand, it is perfectly 
possible to require a pupil to make, let us say, a half-turn on the forehand 
(on a horse which is schooled to it) after showing repeatedly how the 
horse turns and without explaining the formula, merely depending on 
the pupil's feelings and imitative ability. As a matter of fact, this is how 
I have taught f6r years. Normally my pupil, merely on feelings, learns to 
do elementary two-tracks in about half an hour and only then I proceed 
to add official aids one by one to better the movement. Using this system 
one never subordinates really important feelings to the much less impor- 
tant mechanical order of the use of legs and hands. 

Years ago, when I really didn't know how to teach efficiently, my ap- 
proach was the standard one; that is, that of telling the pupils beforehand 



114 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

that, in order to two-track one must do this with the legs and that with 
the hands, which so often resulted in a stiff pupil whose legs and hands 
were struggling with his memory. I particularly remember one lady who 
for weeks and weeks was completely lost between two recipes, one for the 
turn on the forehand and the other for the turn on the haunches. No 
matter which turn she started, by the middle of it she was beginning to 
use the formula of the other one. 

But if your riding is based on knowledge of what the horse should do, 
and on your equestrian tact of cooperation with the horse's efforts, then 
the knowledge of the formulae is important, for they will help you put 
the final touches on your performance. All these formulae consist of 
different combinations of three fundamental leg actions and five funda- 
mental rein actions. 

LEG ACTIONS 

In ideal the desired effect is obtained by merely squeezing with the 
calves or a light tapping by the calves. The squeeze or tapping increases 
with the horse's resistance. A pressure with a spur or spurs is the next 
degree. Kicks with heels or spurs are to be used only if there is a strong 
resistance, 

Leg action #1: Both legs acting just behind the girth, simultaneously 
and with equal strength. Used when urging horse forward. 

Leg action #2: One leg acts just behind the girth. Used, for instance, 
(inside leg) when making a turn in motion to prevent horse from cutting 
it. 

Leg action #3: One leg acts farther behind the girth to range the 
hindquarters. Used, for instance, at the turn on the forehand to rotate 
the hindquarters. 

Depending on how they act, the legs may be "good legs" or not: 

1) HEAVY legs, which constantly clutch the horse, disturbing him. 
Heavy legs are often the result of a natural inclination to overuse muscles, 
or learning to grip before a correct seat, based on balance, rhythm and 
spring has been established. 

2) PASSIVE legs, which are light, and non-disturbing just because they 
leave the horse alone. Passive legs are often the result of being weak, or 
having long experience in riding touchy horses which are unaccustomed 
to legs. 

B) PRIMITIVELY ACTIVE legs, which in a coarse manner seldom 
in cooperation with the hands or horse's efforts ^obtain simple results. 
These legs often belong to able riders with lack of education. 

4) EDUCATED legs, which are "good legs/' are able in the shortest 
time, in cooperation with the hands, to obtain the best possible results 
with the least expenditure of the horse's mental and physical energy. 
Such legs are the result of a combination of education plus a highly 
developed feeling of the horse. 



BRINGING CONTROL FORWARD 



115 



"Good legs" (not necessarily the perfect ones) are required for both 
Intermediate and Advanced control. 

REIN ACTIONS 

Rein action #1 (Pic. 57): TWO REINS OF DIRECT OPPOSITION. 
Both hands being fixed or producing tension to the rear, normally keep- 
ing the neck and head straight. Used to slow down, halt or back the horse. 

Rein action #2 (Pic. 58): ONE REIN OF DIRECT OPPOSITION. 
The active hand (the right one in this case) carried slightly outward and 
then increasing the tension to the rear. Used, for instance, when making 
a sharp turn to right. This action tends to diminish the speed of the 
gait. The passive hand must give as much as the active one has taken, 
unless a certain correction in the attitude of the horse's neck is required. 

Rein action #3 (Pic. 59): THE LEADING REIN. The active hand 
(the right one in this case) is carried outwardly and acts to the right and 
slightly forward. Used, for instance, when turning the horse on a wide 
curve. This action doesn't impede the speed. Unless a certain correction 
in the attitude of the horse's neck is required, the passive hand gives as 
much as the active has taken. 





Pic. 57 



Pic. 58 



Pic, 59 



116 



COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 



Rein action #4 (Pic. 60): THE REIN OF INDIRECT OPPOSITION 
IN FRONT OF THE WITHERS. The active hand (the right one in 
this case) is carried to left across horse's neck, just in front of the withers, 
and tension is to left rear, or mostly to left, depending upon effect desired. 
.The left rein often assists with leading effect (remaining parallel to the 
right rein) or as a rein of direct opposition. This action is used, for 
instance, to keep the horse flat against the wall of the ring. 

Rein action #5 (Pic. 61): THE REIN OF INDIRECT OPPOSITION 
IN REAR OF THE WITHERS. The active hand (the right one in this 
case) is carried somewhat to the left (but doesn't cross the neck) and pro- 
duces tension to rear and left, toward horse's left hip'. The passive hand 
normally gives. Used, for instance, to move the horse to the side, while 
advancing forward (to the left in this case). In my method this rein is 
used only to combat resistance. 

There is one more standard rein effect which you will find in most text- 
books on riding that is the "bearing" or "neck" rein. It is used to turn 
the horse with one hand. This hand is moved forward and upward and 
then presses one of the reins against the upper half of the horse's neck. I 
used to teach it, then stopped, then taught it again and finally discarded 





Pic 60 



Pic. 61 



BRINGING CONTROL FORWARD 117 

it for good from my method. My vacillations were due to the fact that 
while it is an efficient way of turning a trained horse when holding the 
reins in one hand, it has a quality of unsoundness in it because it turns the 
head to the right while turning the horse to the left; this goes Against a 
fundamental principle of my method the horse should look where he is 
going. Obviously a cowboy or a polo player or a whipper-in needing a 
free hand finds this rein effect necessary, but an average cross-country 
rider, when forced to ride on occasions with the reins In one hand, can 
learn to use this hand so that all the other rein signals can be given to the 
horse effectively enough. 

In their actions, hands may be: 

1) HEAVY, which "ride on the horse's mouth" constantly disturbing 
the horse. They usually are the result of a tense, unsteady seat or appre- 
hension as to one's ability to control the horse. 

2) PASSIVE, which are light just because they "leave the horse alone" 
permanently. One will find them in cases of riders who have an easy seat, 
but no knowledge of how to ride. On the other hand, in any good riding, 
hands should be passive most of the time. 

3) PRIMITIVELY ACTIVE, which in a coarse manner, but with feel- 
ings, obtain simple results. They are often termed "naturally good hands" 
and usually belong to able riders whose long experience is their only 
source of knowledge. 

4) EDUCATED, which are truly "good hands" and can be defined 
thus: "Good hands** are the actions of fingers, han'ds and arms which 
(often in cooperation with legs) in the shortest time obtain the greates, 
results with the least expenditure of the horse's* mental and physica. 
energies. 

All the above descriptions of leg and hand actions are as old as the 
hills and constitute probably the most unoriginal part of this book. You 
will find them in eyery standard work on riding. I have Included them 
here just because they are so essential that they cannot be omitted. As a 
rule they are presented in a more detailed and hence, to me, more cum- 
bersome form. On the other hand, the "two reins of direct opposition" are 
usually not presented graphically as they are here. 

In military school in my youth there were two cadets who took solemn 
oaths that after passing the graduating exams they would never read 
anything more in their lives; later they were known in the Russian 
cavalry as "the enemies of printed matter." Yet strange as it may seem, 
in the civilized United States of today, one can find a similar attitude 
toward text-books on riding among those who owe their riding knowledge 
merely to many years in the saddle. I have personally seen people make 
faces looking at diagrams of actions of legs and hands and saying: "that 
is a lot of nonsense you can't ride that way." But i you were to examine 



118 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

the riding of the best of such uneducated but very experienced riders 
you would see that, in a clumsy and inefficient way, they use the same 
standard aids. You just cannot get away from them and the difference 
may be only in their application as, for instance, the classical rider uses 
them to school and ride horses primarily at collected gaits, while the cross- 
country rider of today is using them primarily to maintain efficient for- 
ward movement. 

The efficiency of forward movement depends to a large degree on the 
attitude of the horse's body. If, while moving straight forward, the horse 
holds his neck and head to the side like a puppy then, obviously, the legs 
are not going to move forward at their best. To gain the maximum 
amount of ground with each stride when moving straight the horse must 
himself be straight from nose to tail. Only in a straight attitude is a 
straight moving horse in the best position to maintain his balance, the 
other essentials being also present. For the same reasons, while moving 
along a sharp curve the horse may accept with his body the shape of the 
path along which he moves. 

A recapitulation of the fundamental principles of forward control 
gives us the following list: 

Feeling of the horse's physical efforts and of his mental attitude. 

Consideration o horse's character and physique. 

Maintaining the forward balance of the horse when moving ahead. 

Soft contact (extended neck and head). 

Following arms. 

Give and take. 

On the bit (extended neck and head). 

Flexions. 

Three fundamental leg actions and five rein actions. 

Different leg and hand combinations based on the above basic actions. 

Alignment of horse's body for straight and curved movements. 

Bettering of the horse's movement. 

If you are familiar with both the theory and practice of all the above 
points except bettering the movement of the horse, putting the horse on 
the bit, flexions, plus semi-collection and semi-extension, you know riding 
on an intermediate level. And if you know them all, without exception, you 
know advanced riding. You may add quantities of details to this list, but 
fundamentally there is nothing else to know. The difference may be in 
degree, and higher degrees are attained not through mere knowledge but 
through talent and experience. When I was an eighteen-year-old cadet I 
heard the famous James Fillis saying that at any moment he knew exactly 
what each of the horse's feet was doing under him. I then thought that 
the old man must be a liar. Many years later I myself arrived at the 
point where, when riding horses I was familiar with, I could feel quite 
a bit of what the hooves were doing. This sort of feeling comes only with 



BRINGING CONTROL FORWARD 119 

experience, and may result In a finesse which is beyond being practical 
and which only the really educated eye will see. 

Years ago I began to make educational movies on riding. One of them 
is entitled FORWARD CONTROL and illustrates the points which 
I have just listed. The model (Mr. George Hoblin) rides well and the 
horse has such lovely movement that every time I see this movie I derive 
pleasure from it. I know many horsemen who also beam when looking at 
this horse on the screen, but lately I received a letter from a club where 
it had been shown, saying that the members weren't interested in the film 
as it was "too elementary." Which merely means that there is place for 
a course on the appreciation of good riding as against the pleasure of 
seeing spills and thrills. 

And this appreciation of a good performance of the horse leads me to 
something which I should have discussed long ago that is why thirty 
years ago, when inspired by the Italians to change from old-fashioned 
riding, I didn't follow the Italian system one hundred per cent. In those 
days my knowledge of Italian control and schooling was based on rumor 
that the Italians didn't do any ring schooling gymnastics and expected 
their horses to find their balance and to learn agility merely by being 
ridden cross-country and over different combinations of obstacles by non- 
interfering riders, and on the fact that no book on the Italian method 
which had passed through my hands discussed schooling of a horse for 
sport. It looked as if the rumor was right. 

In 1936 when in Italy, I visited Tor di Quinto and one of the instructors 
demonstrated three horses for me. They jurnped well but were heavy in 
hand, rather clumsy, obviously not too pleasant to ride, and the Italian 
officer discussing them with me said that there was a movement afoot in 
the cavalry to change their method of schooling by augmenting ring 
gymnastics. 

In the course of my riding life I have experimented here and there, 
trying to school horses by cross-country riding alone (as almost all of 
our hunters are schooled), unfortunately minus the Italian hills. In my 
experience anyway, these horses never formed out as well as horses which 
in the early stages of schooling were worked almost entirely in the ring. 
I personally am certain that there is no substitute for ring gymnastics for 
the development of the horse's balance, movement and agility; one should 
or*ly be careful not to go overboard in overemphasizing them. They alone 
can't do the job; jumping low but complicated combinations of ob- 
stacles is also important, as is open country when the time arrives for it. 



CHAPTER VIII 
Elementary Control 

In a progressive method of learning to ride, elementary control is 
meant only for the use 'of beginners while they learn position. It will 
work well only on horses of a placid temperament which have been espe- 
cially trained to work quietly when controlled in a very primitive but 
undisturbing manner; these horses must maintain, of their own accord, 
even gaits on loose reins, respond to a few, simple leg and hand signals, 
obey voice commands and put up with the discomfort caused by the 
clumsy position of the rider. This seems like a large order, but experience 
shows that most horses would rather be ridden the elementary way and 
asked little, than be made to do Passage or jump five foot fences. 

The extreme simplicity of the aims and of the technique of elementary 
control enables the beginner to concentrate mentally and physically on 
the development of a correct seat; progress in learning is much faster if 
the student thinks of only one thing at a time. 

Actually the fundamental principles of elementary control, with various 
individual refinements added, are frequently used by uneducated but 
experienced riders in hacking and even hunting. This, of course, is to be 
regretted for, while elementary control is an unavoidable step in learning 
to ride, it hardly can be considered a desirable ultimate aim. I personally 
feel strongly that hunting should be done on the basis of intermediate 
riding and that everyone who hunts should make an effort to learn it. 
Hacking, however, may be a different thing. There, intermediate control 
is not always necessary in order to have a pleasant ride. Furthermore, in 
hacking there are many cases where elementary control will have to suf- 
fice. For instance: people who do not ride well, do not wish to improve 
and ride merely for exercise or the pleasure of being outdoors, will be 
wise to be undisturbingly simple in their control. These people will 
merely upset their horses if they try to ride the way accomplished horse- 
men do; a knowledge of one's limitations is very important in riding. 
Anyone who belongs to this category and has a quiet horse should control 
him at least in the spirit of elementary riding. From the point of view of 
the horse, elementary control is definitely better than unsuccessful and 
hence abusive attempts of the rider to be complicated without knowing 
how. 

As you will remember, in the chapter BRINGING CONTROL DOWN 
TO EARTH AND FORWARD there is a table which compares the aims 
and the technique of elementary riding with those of intermediate and 

120 



ELEMENTARY CONTROL 121 

advanced. I would suggest your glancing over this table once more before 
beginning to read the rules of elementary control. (See page 103.) 

The table to which 1 am referring you Defines the primary aim of 
elementary control as authority over the horse in primitively executed 
ordinary gaits, during primitive transitions, halts, backing, turns and in 
simple, easy jumping. The table further specifies that control over all 
these movements should be definite and quick, preferably gentle, but 
if necessary rough. If the worse comes to the worst it is better to stop the 
horse, even harshly, than to be taken for a ride. 

Obviously, a beginner, or an elementary rider even with some experi- 
ence, can have authority over the horse through gentle means only pro- 
viding that: 

1) the horse is of a placid disposition and has been trained to execute 
obediently and quietly a few simple routine movements at mere indica- 
tions of the rider. This routine must be really simple, for the more that 
is asked of a horse the greater the chances of upsetting him and provoking 
his resistance. 

2) the technique of elementary control avoids a continuous use of legs 
and hands; avoids even long periods of active aids. On the contrary, the 
technique should aim at leaving the horse (as much as practical) to work 
by himself on loose reins and without the influence of the rider's legs; 
a beginner Is unable to ride on soft contact of hands and legs. It is only 
during moments when the rider gives orders that legs or hands should 
be used. Since such a technique is less disturbing to the horse, he remains 
quiet and cooperative, and this fact enables the rider to concentrate on his 
position on the one hand and on the softness of his orders on the other. 
Riding on loose reins and with passive legs is, by the way, the most efficient 
means to soften the beginner's torso, his arms and his hands; that is, if 
he has confidence In his horse. 

3) hands are used only to slow the horse down, to halt him, to turn 
or to back. The action with the hands should not aim at any finer points 
of riding. Voice commands must always precede the order with the hands, 
except in turning. 

4) the legs urge the horse forward by tapping or kicking; a beginner or 
an elementary rider is unable to control the horse with a variation of 
pressures. The legs are used only to move the horse forward at a desired 
gait, to change to a faster gait and to increase the speed of a gait (one 
leg is used to turn in place). The legs should not be used for any finer 
aims. Voice commands must always precede the orders with the legs. 

Elementary control is learned simultaneously with the seat. Progress in 
teaching position largely depends on a certain dexterity of the pupil 
in the handling of his horse because efficient teaching of position is 
possible only if the class moves around the ring in an orderly manner. 

It you were to apply the above-listed principles to different gaits and 



122 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

movements then you would have the following rules of elementary con- 
trol: 

At the halt legs should be relaxed, reins loose. If the horse becomes 
fidgety, check him with the reins or straighten him with the legs, but 
hope that merely patting and talking soothingly to the horse will relax 
him. 

To start a walk give a voice command "walk/* cluck with your tongue 
and tap with your legs; if necessary, kick. If you meet with resistance, use 
the whip gently on the horse's shoulder. During all this urging the reins 
must be loose. 

If the horse walks too slowly, repeat the signals in the same order. If 
the horse tries to break into a trot say "walk" repeatedly and follow it 
with checking with the reins. As the walk becomes stabilized, release the 
tension on the reins and pat your horse. 

If the horse breaks into a trot, not because he has misunderstood your 
commands but because he has became excited, then pat him and talk 
soothingly to him while checking. 

In all these cases be careful not to squeeze or kick the horse uninten- 
tionally, and if he walks regularly and quietly leave the reins completely 
loose. 

To start a trot. The method of starting the trot is exactly the same as 
that for starting a walk, but the legs are used somewhat more strongly and 
the voice command, naturally, consists of a different word and sharper 
intonation. 

Once the trot is started, establish a steady, ordinary speed by clucking 
or using your legs or whip if the horse moves too slowly and by checking, 
patting and talking soothingly if he is moving too fast. Don't forget to pat 
him the moment he takes the right pace and from then on leave the reins 
loose and beware of disturbing the horse unintentionally with your legs. 

To slow the trot down below the ordinary speed give the command 
"whoa" and repeat it, following it, if necessary, by checking with the reins. 

To increase the speed of the trot above the ordinary, use the cluck, the 
legs and, if necessary, a little whip on the shoulder. On a sluggish horse 
maintain the speed of the trot by squeezing with the calves every time 
you return to the saddle in posting. This is the only case where a beginner 
is able to urge the horse with squeezes of the legs. At a sitting trot urge the 
horse forward by tapping with your legs any time it is necessary. The 
greater freedom of the legs for control is one of the advantages of the 
sitting trot. 

Keep your reins completely loose and your legs passive all the while 
the horse maintains an even, ordinary trot. 

To start a canter from a trot (disregarding the lead) give voice com- 
mand to canter, simultaneously urging the horse forward with the legs 
while, for a couple of seconds, checking him with the reins, to prevent 
him from merely increasing the speed of the trot. Continue to urge him 
forward these couple of seconds that you are checking him and then 



ELEMENTARY CONTROL 123 

simultaneously release the reins and give the final order with one leg 

the outside leg (the right leg if moving in the ring to the left). 

During the preparation for the canter departure stop posting and sit, 
in order to be able to use your legs better. 

All through this preparation to start a canter the horse's neck and head 
must be kept absolutely straight. But, as soon as you find that you have 
time to think of one more thing then, throughout the period of prepara- 
tion for the canter, keep the horse's head turned slightly to the inside 
(to the left if you are going to the left in a ring) just enough to see his 
inside eye. Do this by moving both hands to the outside. This turning of 
the head to the inside, combined with a stronger use of the outside leg is 
a preparation for the future canter departure on the desired lead, which is 
a subject of intermediate control. 

When starting the canter use the whip if the voice and leg commands 
fail; then establish an even speed of the canter by checking or further 
urging; achieve quietness by talking and patting and then leave your 
reins completely loose throughout the canter. A beginner or an elementary 
rider is unable to follow the balancing gestures of the horse's neck and 
head with his arms. Hence, if these riders attempt to canter "on contact" 
they are bound either to hang on the horse's mouth if their reins are 
really taut or, if their reins are slightly slack, the horse will jerk himself 
against the bit every time he moves his neck and head. The same obtains 
at a walk and, to a very large degree, on the jump. This is why the first 
lessons in riding on contact are given at a trot, during which the horse's 
neck and head is steady. Riding on soft contact is the basic point of 
intermediate control. 

At this stage of learning to ride you should use only one speed at a 
canter the rather slow ordinary. Your horse is not schooled to canter semi- 
collectedly and he may become unruly if you canter him too fast. On the 
other hand, if the horse knows the routine of only one speed, he will canter 
for you maintaining this speed, by himself, on loose reins. 

To change from a canter to slower gaits, for instance, from the canter 
to the trot, give the appropriate voice-command, repeating it, and check 
with the reins as lightly as practical, roughly if necessary, to obtain results. 
Once the new gait has been established, pat the horse and return to loose 
reins and general passiveness as quickly as possible. Use the same method 
when in emergencies you have to walk or to halt the horse directly from 
a canter. 

All transitions should be gradual, which means that if you are at a halt 
and you wish to canter you should make a few steps of walk, follow them 
with half a dozen strides at a trot, and then start the canter. The same 
rules should be applied in reverse. In other words, if you canter and you 
wish to halt your horse, you should first bring him to a trot, then to a 
walfc and then to a halt. Abiding by this rule (except in emergencies) you 
will avoid a great deal of possible roughness. 

To make a turn to the right while moving, move your right arm to the 



124 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

right and lead the horse along the turn, acting with the right hand to the 
right and slightly forward. This is called the leading rein. When making 
a long turn such as, for instance, a full circle as an exercise, you may need 
to urge the horse forward with the voice, leg or whip to maintain the 
speed of the gait. When making a turn or a circle use your leading rein as 
little as practical. If the horse resists, you will have to lead him throughout 
the turn, but in many cases an occasional indication will be all that will 
be necessary and then you may leave the reins loose between the moments 
when you are repeating your command to proceed along a curve. The 
above is a very crude form of the "give and take" which you will learn 
considerably later. 

To make a turn in place, you should use the turn on the forehand which 
is easier than the turn on the haunches. 

If you wish to turn on the forehand, rotating the hindquarters to the 
left, leave your left leg in its normal position but press it against the 
horse's body. Then move your right leg about four inches back from its 
normal position and tap (lightly or strongly) with it throughout the turn. 
This action will rotate the hindquarters to the left. With your hands 
check the horse every time he wants to move forward and keep the reins 
loose during the moments when he doesn't. When checking with the reins 
you must keep the neck and head absolutely straight. 

To back the horse, use your hands in the following manner: pull on the 
reins to obtain a step back; the moment the step begins loosen the reins, 
then pull again to start a second step and give the reins while the horse 
is making it. Don't back for more than four steps. Don't use your legs 
while pulling on the reins; in other words, don't simultaneously give two 
contradictory orders. You can use one of the legs singly to straighten a 
horse which is backing crookedly or you can use both legs to wake up a 
sluggish horse before beginning backing. 

You can also straighten a crookedly backing horse by using your right 
rein more strongly (taking his head to the right) when his hindquarters 
deviate to the right, or the reverse if they deviate to the left. Beyond this 
especial effort with the hands, the horse's neck and head must be kept 
straight throughout the backing. 

The approach to the jump. With the little knowledge of riding which 
you possess at this stage, you should not jump higher than three foot 
obstacles and never on horses that are not perfectly stabilized. Such horses 
will enable you to be absolutely passive, so that you can give exclusive 
attention to your position and to giving freedom to the horse's neck and 
head with your hands. If however, on a bad day, a horse suitable for a 
beginner should lose his quiet approach to an obstacle, then try to establish 
an even and calm gait by the means described above. If unable to better 
the horse's approach after trying three or four fences, lower the fence. 

As a general rule, your horse must approach an obstacle at an even trot 
or canter on loose reins. The majority of horses, if properly trained and 



ELEMENTARY CONTROL 125 

consistently ridden sensibly, will do this, particularly If the obstacle Is 
not over three feet. 

Even if a certain amount of control was necessary to rate the horse dur- 
ing the approach, all the controlling efforts of the rider should completely 
stop about two strides from the obstacle. From then on and during the 
jump itself the rider must be completely passive, giving full freedom to 
the horse to negotiate the obstacle in a natural manner. 

The first two months of the normal schooling program described in the 
chapter THE PROGRAM OF SCHOOLING, are devoted to the stabiliza- 
tion (general and in jumping) of the horse, which is the fundamental 
training for the beginner's horse. 

This is all that there is to elementary control. 

Obvious as It probably is to the reader, after having reached this point 
in the book, that principles of elementary control are the only ones by 
means of which a novice or an uneducated rider can manage his horse 
without abusing him, this didn't occur to me In the early stages of my 
teaching career. 

I knew that, from time to time, similar principles had been applied on 
a large scale, for instance, during the Napoleonic wars (a fact which I 
mentioned in the first chapter), and unquestionably were practiced always 
by many individuals, probably more often by the English squire than by 
the scholastically inclined continental gentleman. But to those like me, 
who early in life were exposed to the academic riding of the 19th century, 
the concept of riding most of the time on loose reins as an ideal under 
certain circumstances, would have been an unpardonable heresy; there 
just couldn't be such circumstances. In spite of my youthful enthusiasm 
for Italian ideas, a good part of my thinking remained dominated for a 
long time by James Fillis* philosophy and the essence of Forward Riding 
escaped me for many years. 

James Fillis' book BREAKING AND RIDING, which was our principal text 
book in the Cavalry School, and which is still reprinted today, is a stimu- 
lating presentation of complicated riding; one can find all sorts of ideas 
In it. You will read, for instance, that "the human voice has a great influ- 
ence on the horse" and that "I am the resolute enemy of keeping the horse 
always collected," but such phrases are completely lost among illustrations 
of fully collected horses doing Piaffe or cantering backwards and innumer- 
able statements like this: 

". . , The means for stopping the horse is always the same namely, 
raise the snaffle reins while drawing them back with an equal feeling on 
both reins, so as to bring the weight on the hindquarters; at the same 
time, close both legs strongly to bring the hocks under the animal's body, 
and feel the curb reins. The horse is then between the hands and legs" 

The majority of my contemporaries still can't get rid of this idea of 
"leading the horse between the hands and legs/* no matter where or 
when, even when hacking. 



126 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

I have to admit that I myself do not halt my horse by these elaborate 
means when I hack, although I know how to do It and all my horses have 
been schooled to it also. As a rule, when I hack my horse, not as a part 
of his training but just to enjoy a pleasant morning in the fields and 
woods, I merely say "whoa," and slightly check the reins to make the horse 
halt while I am deciding whether to take a path going to the right or to 
continue straight. And what have I missed by halting the horse this way? 
Precisely nothing. My horse has halted softly and that is the main thing. 
Whether he halted with the neck low or high, with the hindquarters un- 
der him or not seem to me to be scholastic details which may be impor- 
tant in schooling or in some competitions but which, on this morning, 
have no connection with my desire to enjoy nature in the company of my 
horse. Fine riding has its place, but it is out of place to consider it impera- 
tive every time one is in the saddle. 

I never was James FilhY pupil and I like to think that he, himself a 
great master, had a flexible mind and that his teaching would have been 
accordingly flexible. But this was not the case among his passionately 
devoted followers, and my teachers made a real fetish of the principle of 
"riding the horse all the time." This resulted, in my case anyway, in an 
unhappy horse and in my inability to let the horse really go; a fault it 
took me years to get rid of, 

I wouldn't devote sotaany lines to the past were it not for the fact that 
even today some teachers awkwardly combine modern riding with Filiis' 
principles of constant and elaborate domination of the horse by the rider. 
Just lately, when addressing an audience of riding teachers and preaching 
simplification I was criticized by an experienced and unquestionably able 
riding teacher. And it is typical that the serious riding teacher is rather apt 
to indulge in complications. Why? 1 don't know; perhaps because such a 
teacher knows a great deal but sometimes not enough, or perhaps this 
is one of the unconscious ways of convincing oneself of one's superiority 
over ordinary human beings? The fact that some of Filiis' ideas are still 
occasionally professed, even in cross-country riding, is indisputable. 

The method of elementary control as presented in this chapter was not 
conceived overnight in the quiet of a study. Different practical experiences 
dictated its different parts at various times, and it was only about five years 
ago that I put all these parts together into a logical and harmonious whole. 
I remember very well how it all started: I simply could no longer watch bad 
riders abusing my horses, hanging on their mouths and unintentionally, 
of course, jerking them; obviously there was something wrong in my 
method of teaching. And then I thought, wouldn't it be nice if they all 
would ride, at this stage of the game, with no reins at all, controlling the 
horses by voice, as the Asiatic horsemen of 2000 years ago. Going back to 
the beginning of our era would be incongruous, but I was sure that a 
happy medium could be found and I began to work in this direction. This 
chapter is the result of it. 



CHAPTER IX 

What Is a Good Performance of the Horse 

^ It has already been stated many times in this book that the fundamental 
aim of intermediate riding is to obtain a soft, efficient performance, while 
the basic aim of advanced riding is to go a step beyond mere efficiency 
and to obtain a performance of high quality. Neither of these aims can 
be accomplished through mere dexterity of the rider's aids; schooling of 
the horse on one level or the other is all-important. Perhaps I should 
elaborate on these ideas by including the following definitions of school- 
ing and riding. 

The Aims of Schooling. Schooling aims to develop the horse physically 
and mentally to the point where he performs efficiently or at his best 
possible and is pleasant to ride for an educated and therefore discrimi- 
nating rider. Thus schooling, on one hand, aims at an athletic develop- 
ment of the horse's body and consequently is a course in physical educa- 
tion, while on the other hand it teaches the horse signals, obedience, and 
finally cooperation. A good performance of a well-schooled horse exhibits: 

1) Mentally calmness, knowledge of signals, cooperation. 

2) Physically well-developed balance, strength, endurance, agility, 
rhythmic gaits and athletic jumping. 

The Aims of Rational Riding. Riding should aim to produce a perform- 
ance on the level of the schooling which the horse has received; in other 
words, it intends to get out of the horse the best that he is educated to 
give, within the limit of his abilities. 

Both for schooling and for making use in riding of the results of school- 
ing, a knowledge of the mechanics of the horse's gaits and movements is 
essential. Obviously, before attempting to obtain a certain movement the 
rider must know its possible good and bad points. 

There are thick books written entirely about these mechanics. But out 
of this immense mass of data only knowledge which may be of immediate 
and practical assistance to the rider or trainer is presented in this chapter. 
For instance, my book THE DEFENCE OF THE FORWARD SEAT, contains 
142 pages and every bit of it is devoted to the horse's efforts in jumping; 
it took only seven typewritten pages to cover the same subject in this chap- 
ter. This means that all the information given here is absolutely essential, 
As usual, data presented in such a concise form are hard to read through. 
Hence this chapter is intended for reference, not for reading. To try to 
read it would be a mistake, but you will need to refer to it constantly when 

127 



128 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

learning riding or when schooling your first horse; any ambitious ad- 
vanced rider or active trainer will eventually learn to know its content 
by heart. 

This chapter defines different gaits and movements, points out what 
constitutes a good movement and what makes a defective one, often trac- 
ing the latter to failures in schooling or to bad riding. In such cases, I 
assume 1) that the horse in question is sound, and 2) that the horse has 
good average conformation (without being a model). 

This book does not concern itself with the conformation or unsoundness 
of the horse* therefore, it does not discuss faults in gaits, in jumping and 
in different movements which are the result of a bad physique. But I 
would like my readers to bear in mind that such consequences of faulty 
conformation as interfering, paddling, overreaching, rocking, winding, 
etc., cannot be remedied either by good riding or by schooling. 

The mechanics of the horse's movements are interesting to the rider not 
only from the point of view of the quality of the horse's performance, but 
also as the basis for methods of controlling the horse; in other words, as 
the foundation for conceiving formulae for obtaining different move- 
ments. In this respect, however, some details of the mechanics leave ample 
ground for imagination, speculation, and hence disagreement. For in- 
stance, what should the horse's position be to start a canter on the right 
lead? Should his head be turned to the right or to the left? Should his body 
be absolutely straight or should the haunches be slightly ranged to the 
right? Observation of a free horse In nature will not give a decisive answer. 
The same horse on the same day may start successive canters in different 
attitudes. Obviously, the mechanics are combined with emotions and, in 
details, depend on the reasons for starting a movement. As an inexact il- 
lustration, I would like you to analyze the mechanics of your getting to 
your feet from a chair. First of all, It will depend on how you have been 
sitting In the chair; then on whether your getting up was unexpected or 
anticipated; on whether it was caused by alarm, good manners or the sim- 
ple necessity of moving from place to place. You may have your head 
turned in any direction, you may or may not use the arm-gestures, etc. The 
canter departure in nature is just as complicated. In this respect, one may 
talk about the engagement of the hindquarters, or just the opposite; about 
the necessity for keeping the preponderance of weight on the forehand; 
one may stress the freeing of a shoulder or the "loading" of a certain foot, 
which, by the way, can Itself be accomplished In different ways. The Dres- 
sage rider usually starts his thinking with the hind legs, the "forward 
rider" with the forehand; hence there is a divergence of opinions on how 
a canter on a certain lead should be started. 

If the horse does not know any signals, or Is simply resisting, then, of 
course, a certain position may force him into the canter more easily than 
another would, but even here some horses will more frequently start cor- 
rectly from a circle; others, when placed obliquely to the direct line of the 



WHAT IS A GOOD PERFORMANCE OF THE HORSE 129 

movement. There are situations when any one of the known positions 
may be tried by a trainer, when In trouble, on the same horse. 

Pursuing the example of the canter, I would like to add a description 
of the basic stages of what I consider the best way to teach canter depar- 
ture. I believe that the ultimate aim of schooling Is to have a horse respon- 
sive to gentle signals; force should not come into a finished performance. 
As you will see later, schooling by the method presented in this book 
begins on a longe. When going on a longe to the right, with a relaxed 
mind and body, listening to the trainer's commands, the horse naturally 
has the head slightly turned to the right; the weight of the longe will do 
it, if nothing else will; so it Is in this attitude that he will make his first 
circles; in other words, turns, and will start his first canter departures. My 
first mounted canter will be also on a circle with a radius of at least the 
full length of the longe (to have it slow and quiet) and, following so far a 
lightly established habit (without much use of the aids, preferably voice 
alone) the horse will both circle and begin the canter with the head 
slightly turned to the right. Eventually, even on a straight line, a pull on 
the right rein so gentle that it won't even turn the head to the right (in 
combination with equally gentle legs) will be a decisive order. 

All in all, I believe that, in schooling, an appeal to the mentality of the 
horse and the establishment of a habit through consistent use of the same 
appeal is more efficient than the efforts of the rider to obtain a certain 
movement through forcing the horse Into a definite position. The very 
fact that an average horse which has been trained to start a canter on a 
certain lead from a certain set of aids can be re-trained within a few weeks 
to start it from a different combination, seems to substantiate my theory. 

Of course, the fact that the horse can be easily re-trained does not mean 
that an appeal to the mentality is all that is necessary; it also means that 

the mechanics of the horse's movements can be variously interpreted as 

I mentioned above. 

In the majority of books on riding you will read something like this: 
"To take the gallop with the right lead, the left hind leg must begin the 
movement, therefore, if the left hind leg is weighted by the rider's seat it 
is the one best fitted to raise the mass; if the reins weight the left shoulder 
at the same time, then the right foreleg is more easily able to extend its 
stride/' 

I have many things to say against this traditional Interpretation of the 
mechanics of the canter departure. 

First of all, only a well-schooled dressage horse starts the canter from 
behind. A cross-country horse (even a sufficiently schooled one) moving 
forward with forward balance in most cases starts the gallop from the 
forehand, and neither in the hunting field nor in the jumping arena does 
it matter how the horse starts the canter, providing the departure is 
smooth and the gallop united. Hence, to you or to me, "weighting one of 
the haunches** for the canter departure is not necessary. 



130 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

But I would dare to doubt its importance even in Dressage. Did you 
ever feel an ache or cramp in one of your legs, when tired after a long ride? 
And then, forgetting the forward seat, you sat in the saddle unevenly with 
more weight on one side? Don't you remember that no change took place 
in the gait, any gait, and it continued straight and even, although, unques- 
tionably, the horse felt uncomfortable, 1 am certain that an uneven distri- 
bution of the rider's weight is annoying and tiring to the horse and I am 
also certain that switching it consistently in combination with other aids 
may turn into a signal. But I do not believe that it can influence the horse 
physically to the point where he is forced to behave in a certain way. 

You have probably had experience with a horse who, when quiet, al- 
ways responded to a certain set of aids for canter departure but who, when 
excited, failed to obey them. Isn't this one more proof that the movement 
was obtained through a trained horse's cooperation and not through any 
forcible means by the rider? 

I personally don't believe in using the weight for the control of the 
horse. To me, the horse should feel the rider's weight as little as possible 
in general; this is where the Forward Seat is supreme. But 1 realize that 
the weight can be used as a signal and will be effective every time the horse 
wishes to cooperate. For instance, in very few hours you can teach the 
horse to turn without any use of legs and hands, merely by switching your 
weight considerably to one side. 

Furthermore, I have my doubts about the decisive influence of "weight- 
ing one shoulder and thus freeing the other," by moving both hands to 
one side or by turning the horse's head to one or the other side. You un- 
questionably have seen many riders whose horses w r ere trotting straight 
while their heads were held in a crooked position from an uneven pull 
on the reins. And, if this unfortunate horse ceases to accept such a rein 
action as a signal, he will move straight enough, although one of his 
shoulders is obviously more "loaded" than the other. But again, I know 
from experience, that loading a shoulder can become a signal. 

The average book of the type I have just quoted usually makes a strong 
point of keeping the horse's body during the canter departure, and when 
cantering (even slowly), perfectly straight in relation to the straight line 
of forward movement. This, by the way, is one of the strictest rules of 
Dressage. Unquestionably, if you wish to take some trouble in schooling, 
the above rule can be achieved, but this is where the natural mechanics 
of the horse's body are forgotten for the sake of the artificial precision of 
manege riding. Obviously, if placed slightly sideways to the direction of 
movement, the horse will naturally take the lead of the side which is 
ahead of the other. The same interpretation of the horse's mechanics in- 
dicates that no effort should be made on the part of the rider to prevent 
the horse's ranging the quarters at a slow canter. With an increase of 
speed, the horse by himself will straighten his body, for no effective push- 



WHAT IS A GOOD PERFORMANCE OF THE HORSE 



131 



Ing by the hindquarters (without which there is no speed) can take place 
unless the horse is straight. Many horses, due to their conformation, will 
naturally start and maintain a slow canter with the body kept straight; 
such a slow canter is the nicest in appearance. 

But even if it is possible to Interpret certain details of the mechanics in 
different ways, there are fundamentals which can mean only one thing. 
It is with these basic mechanics that this chapter Is concerned. 

All the following definitions are conceived as parts of the method about 
which this book is written; they may not entirely suit another system of 
riding and schooling. 

Here is the list of topics of this chapter in the order in which they are 
discussed: 



1) Ordinary (travelling) gaits. 

2) Some of the possible defects 
of the ordinary gaits due to 
faulty schooling. 

3) Some of the possible defects 
of the ordinary gaits due to 
bad riding. 

4) Slow gaits: 

slow passive gaits 
semi-collected gaits 
defects and good points 

5) Fast gaits: 

fast animated gaits 
semi-extended trot 
the usual defect. 

6) The speed of the gaits. 

7) Fatigue at different gaits: 

muscular fatigue 

fatigue of the lungs and 

heart 
mental fatigue. 

8) The rhythms of the gaits: 

the walk 
the trot 
the canter 
disunited canter 
counter gallop. 

9) The jump: 

what is a good jump? 
the mechanics of the jump 



the common defects of the 

jump 
changes of leads on the 

jump 
fatigue in jumping. 

10) Backing: 

good backing 
poor backing. 

11) Half-turn on the forehand In 
place: 

a good turn 
divergence of opinions 
a poor turn. 

12) Half-turn on the haunches in 
place: 

a good turn 
a poor turn 
divergence of opinions. 

13) A turn with movement for- 
ward: (circle, half -circle, etc.) 

the mechanics 
a good turn 
a poor turn. 

14) Two tracks and shoulder in: 

the mechanics 
divergence of opinions 
good two tracks 
poor two tracks. 

15) A flying change of leads. 

16) Transitions. 

17) A short turn at the gallop. 



132 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

More information on the mechanics of the horse's movement is to be 
found in the next chapter and scattered through the book. 

Ordinary (Travelling) Gaits, viewed from the side, must show long, even, 
free, close-to-the-ground strides; such strides constitute efficient movement. 
This kind of stride largely depends on the extended attitude of the 
horse's neck and head. The horse should move with the neck stretched 
forward and, on the average, held at about 40 degrees (depending on the 
gait and conformation) to the ground, and the head held forward of 
the perpendicular. 

Viewed from the front, the horse must keep himself straight from the 
nose to the tail. His forelegs should move straight forward with no throw- 
ing of the feet outward or inward. 

Viewed from the rear, the hindfeet should move straight forward, track- 
ing the forefeet. 

The rider should be able with little effort to maintain an even gait, no 
matter what the speed or the gait. 

All the above points combine to produce efficient movement, which 
means that all the energy generated at the moment by the horse is utilized 
to cover ground and none is wasted in nervousness, resisting the rider, 
high action, disconnected movement, wavering, etc. 

Some of the Possible Defects in the Ordinary Gaits Due to Faulty 
Schooling: 

1) Wavering, while supposedly moving straight, is nearly always caused 
by a failure to develop in the horse sufficient "impulse forward." The 
horse that lacks this impulse stays "behind the bit" and hence wavers. 

2) Unevenness of gaits (constant variations in the speed) is usually 
caused by failure to "stabilize" the horse at his gaits or by failure 
to establish calmness. 

3) Excessive knee action^ while it usually is caused by faulty conforma- 
tion (for instance, excessively long cannon bones) also may be pres- 
ent when the forward, free swing of the forelegs has not been devel- 
oped in schooling. 

4) "Cold" shoulders, which do not act freely, may be perfectly good 
shoulders (particularly in a lethargic type of horse) the action of 
which has not been developed through schooling gymnastics. 

5) Stig gaits are often the result of a stiff mouth whose resistance to the 
rider's hand stiffens first the poll, then the neck, then the forehand 
and finally the whole body. 

6) Disconnected gaits are gaits which lack synchronization between 
the beats of hind and fore legs. A disconnected horse fails to move 
in one piece. Such movement is often the result of working the horse 
at too fast gaits (particularly at too fast a trot) before the horse has 
learned synchronized movement at slowish ordinary gaits. Teaching 
regularity of the rhythm of gaits is one of the basic aims of schooling. 



WHAT IS A GOOD PERFORMANCE OF THE HORSE 133 

Some of the Possible Defects in the Ordinary Gaits Due to Bad Riding. 

(It Is assumed that the horse Is well-schooled but badly ridden): 

1) Inefficient strides due to the rider's failure to have the horse on the 
bit (or on contact) with extended neck. 

2) Uneven movement due a) to the fact that the rider disturbs the 
horse; b) to bad cooperation of rider's legs and hands. 

3) Wavering combined with short strides occurs when the horse is 
badly "behind the bit," caused by bad cooperation of the rider's legs 
and hands. 

4) Pulling, with resulting stiff movement, may be due to the fact that 
the horse is Irritated by the tactless behavior of the rider; It may also 
be due to the horse being "over the bit." Heavy, slow hands com- 
bined with over-energetic legs are the usual cause of the latter. 

Slow Gaits may range from merely slow passive gaits with forward 
balance to different degrees of collection. The first are used at the begin- 
ning of schooling and sometimes in cross-country riding; while the latter (as 
gymnastics) are practiced only in advanced stages of schooling. 

In full collection the hind legs advance little under the body and swing 
out correspondingly little, but they are bent in the hocks, the neck is 
raised and Is arched in the poll, head almost perpendicular to the ground. 
With this "central balance" the horse moves with shortened, high, light 
and cadenced steps. 

As long as full collection does not lead to the bettering of free galloping 
and jumping and too much work in It may make the horse nervous and 
even impair the efficiency of the travelling gaits (by shortening and raising 
the strides), the trainer of cross-country horses should use semi-collected 
gaits as gymnastics only. The difference between collection and semi- 
collection lies In the degree of engagement of the hindquarters (see text 
on "engagement" in next chapter), of raising the neck and of bringing 
the head in, and in the degree of the energy of propulsion. (Pics.* 62, 63 
& 64). In other words, In the degree of central balance, and In the height 
and cadence of the steps. If, when aiming at collection, you do not 
attempt to switch some of the horse's weight from the forehand to the 
hindquarters, do not bring the head all the way in to a perpendicular 
position and, if you avoid stimulating excessive energy of propulsion, 
you will have semi-collected gaits. The steps of semi-collected gaits should 
be shorter, higher and more cadenced than those of ordinary gaits, but 
not to the degree of full collection. In any case, the head should be brought 
in and held in a more or less vertical position through repeated flexions 
of the mouth (about one flexion each full stride). 

The usual deject of these gaits is nervousness and stiffness, and the usual 
cause of it is the fact that the horse is gathered by the force of the rider's 
legs and hands which the horse irritatedly resists. A gradual education 
permits collection of the horse with very soft hands and undisturbmg 



134 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

legs. In such cases, the gait is elastic and the action of the legs rounded. 

Semi-collection through flexions is often developed without any special 
effort by the trainer, in the course of the exercises which consist of changing 
speeds at different gaits (shortening and lengthening the gait). 

The first step towards collection is the Ramener, that is raising the neck 
and bringing the head in by flexing the poll, 

Fast Gaits. A fast trot based on free going is called either a fast or a 
long-striding one, while that based on collection is called an extended 
one. Dressage, which was always practiced exclusively in small arenas, 
was never concerned with really fast gaits (except the fast walk). Dressage, 
however, developed both the trot and canter with an extra extension of 
the forelegs. In a well executed extended High School trot the horse's 
neck is held high, and the head in an approximately vertical position; 
the hind legs do not go forward to a great degree under the body ^hence 
the relatively slow speed) but the forelegs are raised up and then ex- 
tended forward to the maximum. On the other hand in a natural fast 
trot, the neck and head are held in a normal extended attitude, the hind- 
legs engage far under the body, while the forelegs lengthen their action 
correspondingly; the strides are flat. The extended gallop (canter) of 
Dressage was developed in a manner similar to the extended trot; it should 
not be confused with the gallop of a hunter. 

What this book calls the semi-extended trot is merely a long-striding 
natural trot with the neck and head in the position of the Ramener 
(neck held high and the head bent in the poll). 

During early schooling merely a faster trot than ordinary is used. 
Gradually a long stride should be developed. A semi-extended trot, may 
be practiced later as a gymnastic, with some horses. It is a tiring move- 
ment and even a simple long-striding trot should be used very discreetly. 

THE SPEEDS OF THE GAITS 

The ordinary walk approximately 4 miles per hour 

The ordinary trot approximately ,.. 8 " " 

The ordinary canter approximately T 10 " ".. " 

The semi-collected walk approximately, 2^ ' " " 

The semi-collected trot approximately. 5 ** " ** 

The semi-collected canter .approximately '....... 6 

A fully collected trot (Piaffe) is in place. 

A fully collected canter may be almost in place. 

The semi-extended trot approximately...... 12 *' " ** 

A fully extended trot may be slower than the semi-extended 
one (less strides per minute). The difference is not in the 
speed but in the size of strides and in the comparative 
extension of the limbs. 

The hunting pace approximately.. 18 ** " 

The speed required in the arena jumping and in the cross- 
country run of the Three-D ay-Event approximately... 18 

The speed required in the steeplechase of the Three-Day-' 
Event approximately 24 " " " 




., 

Photo by "The Photo Spot" 

Pic. 62. Shows a collected canter. (The rider Mr. Fritz Stecken). 




Pic. 6S. Shows a semi-collected trot. 




Pic. 64. Shows an ordinary canter on loose reins both, horse and rider are the 

same as in the picture of a semi-collected trot. Notice the different distribution 

of weight of the horse and the resulting difference in action. The rider changes 

his attitude in each case in order to remain united with the horse. 




Pic. 65. Here is relaxed backing and because it is relaxed the movement is in 
two beats; each beat is constituted by a diagonal pair of legs. This backing is 
on an intermediate level the rider obtains the steps back by means of "give and 
take" with his hands, maintaining the neck and head of the horse in the normal 



WHAT IS A GOOD PERFORMANCE OF THE HORSE 135 

Fatigue at Different Gaits. 

Muscular fatigue. The walk and trot pushed to the limit are very 
fatiguing. If a horseman wishes to go fast he gallops. A collected gallop 
also demands disproportionately much energy from the horse. Hence the 
selection of the gaits should be directed by the speed required. The very 
fast walk and trot, as well as collected gaits, should be used as gymnastics 
only and not as travelling gaits. The very fast as well as collected gaits 
should be developed gradually; any new movement, bringing new muscles 
into play, may hurt the horse if used too much at first. 

Fatigue of the lungs. (Closely related to fatigue of the heart.) At a walk 
the horse uses twice as much air as when standing still; at an ordinary 
trot four times; at an ordinary canter just slightly more than at a trot, and 
at full gallop more than twelve times as .much as when standing. The 
lungs' fatigue, as well as muscular fatigue, should always be taken into 
consideration when riding or when schooling. In the course of schooling 
the "wind" of the horse as well as his muscles should be gradually de- 
veloped. 

Mental fatigue. The horse, if unaccustomed to it, is easily bored by 
the routine of ring gymnastics. Hence, at first, lessons in the ring should 
not be over forty-five minutes' duration, interrupted often by relaxing at 
a walk. This is one of the reasons why some trainers prefer to have one 
half-hour lesson in the morning and one in the afternoon instead of a 
whole hour all at once. A tactful trainer doesn't repeat the same exercise 
too many times in a row. 

Concentration and cooperation are things which the horse learns gradu- 
ally. In this respect a green horse is like a child, 

The Rhythms of the Gaits. The seat of the movement being the hind- 
quarters, it is customary to count the beats starting with the hind feet. 

The walk is a movement of four beats. The order is as follows: 

Either of the hind legs may start the propulsion after the initial step of 
the diagonally opposite fore leg. If the right hind was the first to push, 
then the second beat is the right front, the third beat the left hind, the 
fourth beat the left front. 

In the course of each stride of the walk, the horse passes through phases 
when he is supported in turn by diagonal and lateral pairs, and by three 
legs at once. During the moments of instability (lateral supports) the horse 
uses the gestures of the neck and head to balance himself. The rider 
must follow these gestures with the movements of his arms. There are 
practically no balancing gestures at a collected walk. 

The trot is a movement of two beats. The legs move forward in diagonal 
pairs. Right hind and left front make one beat, while the left hind and 
the right front form the other beat. 



136 COMMQNSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

At the trot the horse Is supported by alternating diagonal pairs. The 
diagonal supports give stability to the gait and therefore during the trot 
the horse doesn't need the assistance of balancing gestures. At the trot 
the neck and head remain practically steady, and consequently the rider's 
arms should be correspondingly steady. 

The canter (gallop) is a movement of three beats (four beats in full 
gallop or In an extremely collected one). Depending on the type of school- 
ing the canter may .begin from the front or from behind. (The latter 
in the case of a collected Dressage horse). In the case of a free-going cross- 
country horse it starts from the front. The order of the beats of a full 
stride of a canter (after the first half-stride) on the right lead is as follows: 
First beat left hind alone. Second beat a diagonal pair consisting of 
right hind and left front. Third beat the right foreleg alone. In the 
case of the canter on the right lead the right legs move slightly ahead of 
the left legs. This should be taken Into consideration when placing the 
horse for a canter departure on a specified lead. 

At the canter the horse Is supported during each stride in turn by one 
hind leg, by three legs, by a diagonal pair, again by three legs and by one 
front leg. During the moments of insufficient stability (single supports) 
the horse helps his balance by gestures with the neck and head. These 
gestures must be followed by the rider's arms. There are practically no 
gestures at the collected gallop. 

Between the last beat of one stride and the first beat of the next one 
there is a moment of complete suspension. It is during this moment that 
a flying change of leads can take place. 

The disunited canter has the following order of beats: if the first beat 
happened to be the right hind foot then the second beat is the left lateral 
pair and the third beat the right fore foot. It takes an agile horse to 
correct himself once the disunited canter has begun; hence, it Is best 
to stop the colt and start a canter anew. 

Counter gallop consists in making a turn while galloping on the out- 
side lead; for instance, a circle to the left while galloping on the right 
lead. It is what is commonly called the wrong lead when it is performed 
unintentionally. 

If it is well executed, the horse proceeds with even steps, remaining 
soft in the mouth and without leaning inward. 

An awkward horse will lose his balance to the front and to the inside, 
hence will move with constantly increased speed, leaning on the rider's 
hands and also leaning toward the inside of the turn. 

While circling at the counter gallop the horse's head must remain 
turned slightly toward the outside- in the direction of the lead of the 
gallop. 

The Jump. 

What is a good jump? A horse which can jump high and broad is not 
necessarily a good jumper. A high, clean jump may be: 



WHAT IS A GOOD PERFORMANCE OF THE HORSE 137 

1) Awkward and therefore not safe. 

2) Unpleasant for the rider to sit. 

3) Difficult to control during the approach. 

4) Hard on the stiffly landing horse; such stiff jumping usually leads to 
diseases of the bones and tendons. 

5) The emotional disturbance on the jump may be so great that the 
horse may require a pause before taking the next obstacle. There 
are horses which can negotiate a course only if halted or brought to 
a walk after each jump. In such artificial circumstances they may 
jump high and clean but cannot be considered good jumpers. 

A good jumper in the full sense of the term is the one which: 

1) Approaches an obstacle boldly at a quiet, energetic gait, holding 
himself in a natural, extended attitude (which is the best for 
jumping). 

Only if the horse is relaxed mentally during the approach does he 
have a chance to be relaxed on the jump physically, and only a 
relaxed horse can make an athletic jump. 

2) Adjusts his strides himself, the rider being passive (except for 
occasional "rating") so as to end the last stride on the best line for 
the take-off. 

3) Takes off without any hesitation, loss of stride or undue effort. 

4) Is athletic enough to cope with a trappy approach or to compensate 
for a mistake (if such occurs) in figuring the take-off. 

5) Makes the Initial effort just powerful enough to negotiate the ob- 
stacle (without waste of energy) and doesn't under jump or over- 
jump It. 

6) Uses his body harmoniously throughout the jump. 

7) Lands surely and softly, using all the shock absorbers of his body 
(remains relaxed). 

8) Gallops away as quietly as he approached the obstacle, being quickly 
ready for the next one. 

Such a jump can be produced only through good riding of a well- 
schooled horse which, to begin with, possessed natural abilities for jump- 
Ing. 

The mechanics of the jump. From the point of view of the horse's 
efforts in negotiating an obstacle, the jump is usually divided into three 
periods: the take-off, the flight and the landing. 

During the take-off y the horse uses his forces against the ground to 
propel his body upward and forward. 

During the flight, the horse, while consuming the energy of the first 
period, somewhat regulates and corrects It with "inner motions." But 
forces developed when the body has no contact with the ground have very 
little power in them. 



IBS COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

During the landing, the horse, having regained contact with the ground, 
uses different forces to enable his body to land a) with an equilibrium 
which will prevent a fall; b) with an elasticity which will absorb the shock 
of landing. 

More specifically: 

During the take-off, the horse has to accomplish the following: 

1) He must acquire an angle to the ground with the front elevated. 

2) He must accumulate spring in the hocks. 

3) He must release the spring, propelling himself upward and forward. 

The angle of elevation is produced by a double effort of raising the 
forehand and lowering the croup. The raising of the forehand Is achieved 
by the upward thrust of the fore legs, while the lowering of the croup 
is produced by an energetic engagement of the hindquarters. This en- 
gagement of the hindquarters, with the weight of the whole horse on 
them, results in the horse's, so to speak, sitting on them, accumulating the 
spring in the hocks and in other joints. Then the horse releases this spring 
by pushing against the ground. 

During the take-off the horse makes two gestures with the neck and 
head. The first one is upward and to the rear and coincides with the thrust 
of the forehand and the shortening of the horse's back at the moment of 
utmost engagement of the hindquarters. The next gesture is extending 
the neck forward and this takes place at the moment of the release of 
spring and the resulting utmost extension of the back. 

In preparation for the neck gestures on the jump the horse stretches it 
forward a couple of strides before the take-off. 

During the flight, the horse has to accomplish the following: 

1) Raise the forehand at the moment it passes the obstacle. 

2) Raise the hindquarters at the moment when they pass the obstacle. 
B) Fold the legs when they pass the obstacle. 

4) Give the fore legs a correct angle with the ground before landing. 

5) Diminish the speed for the moment of landing. 

Strong muscular efforts are possible only when the body is in contact 
with the ground; consequently, there cannot be any important efforts 
during the flight. The most that the horse can do while in the air is to 
regulate his flight somewhat by balancing gestures of the neck and head, 
also by certain actions of the back and sometimes by a sort of irregular 
wiggling of other parts of the body. The gestures of the neck and head 
are the most important of these and they are connected with the efforts 
of the back. The neck, during the upward part of the flight at first con- 
tinues the gesture forward, then follows it with a gesture downward, the 
climax of which is reached at the moment that the forehand passes over 
the obstacle; the purpose of this gesture is to lighten the forehand. This 



WHAT IS A GOOD PERFORMANCE OF THE HORSE , 189 

gesture corresponds with the curving of the back upward so that the 
horse's body assumes the shape of the trajectory of his flight. During the 
downward flight the horse's neck and head make a gesture upward which 
coincides with the caving in of the back. One of the purposes of these 
actions of the back and neck is to raise the hindquarters at the moment 
when they pass over the obstacle. The upward sw r ing of the neck during 
the downward flight also enables the shoulders to extend the fore legs 
for a landing at the best angle; at the same time this gesture, reaching its 
climax at the moment when the first foot to land touches the ground, 
diminishes the speed in the return to the ground and lessens the force 
of the impact. 

Throughout the flight, the muscles close the angles of the legs when 
they pass over the obstacle and then open them in preparation for the 
landing. 

During the landing, the horse has to accomplish the following: 

1) He must absorb the shocks of landing. 

2) He must change the angle of his body in reference to the ground. 

The shock of landing is absorbed by the joints, tendons and muscles 
of the shoulders, fore legs and back, assisted by the gestures of the neck 
and head. The first fore leg to touch the ground is immediately picked up 
upon landing and so is the second. Both fore legs are in the air before the 
hind legs come in contact with the ground and there is a moment of com- 
plete suspension. By picking up the landing legs quickly the horse 
diminishes the evil effects of the impact. 

The change of the angle of the body in reference to the ground is 
achieved a) by the upward thrust which each of the fore legs gives in turn 
upon landing, and b) by the engagement of the hindquarters under the 
body before they land. 

The upward gesture of the neck which began during the second part 
of the flight reaches its peak at the moment of the landing of the first 
fore leg and thus also helps to absorb part of the shock. The next gesture 
of the neck is down and coincides with the shortening and curving of the 
back upward to enable the hindquarters to engage for landing. 

The common defects of the jump. Many defects of jumping may be due 
to the fact that the horse is not capable either physically or mentally 
or emotionally. But often the defects of the jump may be traced to no 
schooling, bad schooling, or consistently bad riding. For instance: 

1) Refusing. The horse often acquires this habit if, as a result of the 
bad seat and hands of the rider, he experiences pain every time he 
jumps. 

Consistently demanding higher jumps of the horse than he is ca- 
pable of performing with ease will also produce a refuser. 



140 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

2) Rushing may develop from a) the habitual nervousness or over- 
eagerness of the rider who overpushes the horse during the ap- 
proach; b) from jumping unschooled but bold colts too high too 
early; c) from jumping before obedience has been established in 
general schooling. 

3) Climbing fences {taking off too late and hesitantly) may be the 
result of heavy, restricting hands or of a failure to develop "flight" 
in schooling. Failure to develop and to sustain the "impulse" of the 
approach may also result in "climbing." 

4) A consistently too early take-off may be caused by failure during 
schooling to develop the upward thrust of the forehand or by failure 
to teach the horse to figure his jump economically. 

5) The absence of neck gestures on the jump is usually the result of 
heavy hands which never give enough freedom to the horse to make 
these gestures. 

6) Stiff landings, which jnay be so harmful to the soundness of the 
horse, usually result from the horse being tense physically as a sequel 
to being tense mentally. The results of rational schooling and good 
riding should be a quiet horse, jumping in a relaxed manner. 

Changes of leads on the jump are often caused by the instinctive desire 
of the horse to have both hind legs lined up for the thrust of the take-off; 
obviously, when nearly on the same line, the hind legs can act more 
powerfully. To even them up during the last stride of the approach the 
horse has to make the appropriate effort with the leg that is farther back. 
This effort may carry this hoof slightly ahead of the other and thus the 
pattern for changing leads while the horse is in the air is set. This lining 
up of the hind legs requires a certain skill; hence the more experienced 
the jumper, the bigger the likelihood of hfe changing legs on a jump of 4' 
or higher; he may not make any special effort on a lower obstacle. I am 
fax from being certain that the above rather standard explanation of the 
change of leads over obstacles is the only one, since while studying slow 
motion pictures I have noticed that more often than not the change 
occurs during the flight, when the unexpected foreleg speeds up its move- 
ment in order to land first. 

Fatigue in jumping. Jumping, since it requires a strong physical effort 
and mental concentration, can easily tire a horse in both ways. Further- 
more, an even slightly unfortunate, hard landing may hurt the horse, as 
landing on your heels may hurt you. Too many such landings on the same 
day may start trouble. A judicious trainer will abide by the following 
rules: 



1) He will jump the horse up to the horse's easy limit, at the most three 
times a week, each time taking ten to fifteen jumps. On the other 





Pic. 66 (left). A turn on the haunches, executed on the intermediate level with- 
out any attempts to collect the horse. The horse's head is slightly turned in the 
direction of the rotation of the forehand and the right front foot crosses in front 
of the left one, the most important part of the movement for it develops the 
extension of the forehand. See page 142. 
As to the aids: note 

1) that the right leg of the rider is applied considerably behind the girth; 

2) that the right rein is used as a rein of indirect opposition in front of the 
withers; 

3) that the position of the left arm indicates that it is in the act of using an 
opening rein; 

4) that the position of the left toe shows that the left leg is kept at the girth. 

Pic. 67 (right). This is how "Two Tracks" looks when executed by a free-going 
horse. The fact that the movement is correct in all its essential details proves 
that collection is not necessary for the execution of this movement. I would like 
to stretch the point further and say that as a gymnastic for the development of a 
jumper a free Two Tracks is considerably more beneficial than a collected one. 

Seepage 145. 



WHAT IS A GOOD PERFORMANCE OF THE HORSE 141 

three working days of the week, he may Jump different combinations 
of really low obstacles, some at a trot, not going higher than 2'6". 
Primarily because on such obstacles the shocks of landing are negli- 
gible, about thirty of them can be taken on the same day. 

2) He will not jump a four-year-old higher than 3' 6". At this age the 
horse is still growing and his bones are not fully formed. 

3) He will not jump a schooled jumper more than twice a week and 
more than ten jumps a day, and will not jump at all for a few days 
before a competition. The adherence to such a routine will result 
in the horse having a certain "edge," which he will need for the 
strenuous day of showing. 



The above-described knowledge of the mechanics of the jump is abso- 
lutely imperative for anyone who schools a jumper. Only if a trainer can 
appreciate which of the jumping efforts of the horse are wrong or in- 
sufficient can he prescribe the proper exercises to correct them. 

Backing. (Pic. 65) Backing, if well executed, is a diagonal movement in 
two beats. The right hind and left front stepping back together, followed 
by the other diagonal pair. 

Good backing is straight, slow, regular and relaxed, with long steps. 

Poor backing. If the horse is resisting and consequently stiff, the move- 
ment degenerates into four beats, each leg moving separately. It is also un- 
even, irregular (steps of different sizes) and may take the form of not 
walking back but "rolling** back. 

Half -Turn on the Forehand in Place. This turn is executed from a halt 
and consists of rotating the quarters to the right or left, whichever the 
rider chooses, until they have made a half-circle around the forehand and 
the horse faces in the opposite direction. 

A good turn. In a very animated, semi-collected, but completely relaxed 
turn neither one of the fore feet will be stationary, forming a pivot, but 
while one marks time almost in place the other will be stepping around 
it. In the training of a cross-country horse this full animation of both 
fore legs is not essential and it is permissible if some beats are lost because 
the horse planted his exterior fore leg for too long. But another point con- 
cerning the movement of the legs is important that is, that when rotating 
the croup to the left, for instance, the right hand leg must engage so as 
to move ahead and across the left hind. The turn must consist of approxi- 
mately four clearly defined, well-connected regular steps. 

Throughout the turn the horse's neck remains straight and the head 
either straight or slightly turned to the left, if, for instance, the quarters 
rotate to the left, only if needed to keep the forehand in place. 

Divergence of opinions. 

In HORSEMANSHIP AND HORSEMASTERSHIP (ed. 1945, page 103) it is said 
that during this turn "one front foot is even immobile" and "consequently 
the aids to be used must cooperate in placing onto this immobile front 



142 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

foot as much of the weight as possible, thus facilitating the movement of 
the other front foot and of the hindquarters/' 

This Idea of the turn with one of the front feet as an immobile pivot is 
to be found In much old as well as modern writing. I, personally, can't 
see it. Granting that the adjective "Immobile" is an ill-chosen one and 
cannot be applied to a pivot which turns, we are still left with a physi- 
cally unnatural and awkward demand on the horse, that Is to turn the 
foot In place without having casters under it. 

Some of the Dressage writers of the 19th century, such as E. Barroil 
in Ms book, L'ART EQUESTRE (1889), point out that there are two kinds of 
turns on the forehand, one with both fore legs moving and the" other with 
one of the fore legs as a pivot. E. Barroil stresses the point that the first 
kind Is used at the beginning of schooling and gradually leads to the turn 
with the pivoting foot. I believe that even in Dressage the animation of 
all the parts of the horse's body in the execution of any movement Is more 
Important than the mathematical exactness of having the turn really In 
place. But even if It were generally accepted as one of many perfectionist 
aims of Dressage, it certainly doesn't make sense when applied to the 
training of cross-country horses. To me, even for Dressage, the ideal 
would be that one fore leg marks time approximately in place while the 
other fore leg and quarters circle around it. 

A poor turn. In a badly executed turn the resisting horse may move for- 
ward, back or to the side. His head may go up and his neck probably will 
be turned away from the direction of the movement. One of the fore 
legs, affected by the general stiffness, may stay "planted" most of the time. 
Being fidgety throughout the turn, the horse may refuse to stand quietly 
after the turn has been accomplished. 

Half-Turn on the Haunches in Place. (Pic. 66). This turn is executed 
either from a halt or from a walk and consists of rotating the forehand to 
right or left, whichever the case may be, until it has made a half-circle 
around the hindquarters and the horse faces in the opposite direction. 

A good turn. In a very alert, semi-collected, but relaxed turn the hind 
feet will not be stationary, but will mark, time, turning around on a very 
small circle (almost in place). In the training of a cross-country horse a 
semi-collected attitude Is not necessary for this turn and, at least at the 
beginning of training, the turn should be executed keeping the horse in 
Ms ordinary, calm attitude. It is permissible for a couple of beats to be 
lost because the horse planted one of his hind feet for too long. But the 
turn can be considered good only, if when rotating the forehand to the 
l^ft, for Instance, the right front leg moves ahead and across the left one. 
The turn must consist of about four clearly-defined, well-connected, 
regular, quiet steps. 

Throughout the turn the horse's neck and head must either remain 
straight or the head only slightly turned in the direction of the move- 
ment. The contact with the rider's hands must remain soft. 

A poor turn. In a badly-executed turn the resisting horse may move 



WHAT IS A GOOD PERFORMANCE OF THE HORSE 143 

forward, back or to the side; his head may go up and the neck will prob- 
ably turn away from the direction of the movement. The hind legs 
affected by the general stiffness of the horse may stay planted most of 
the time and the horse will try to turn in one big sweep instead of taking 
several regular steps to accomplish it. The front leg which is supposed 
to cross in front of the other front leg may try to cross behind it. 

Being fidgety throughout the turn, the horse may refuse to stand quietly 
(in the turn from a halt) after the turn has been accomplished. 

Divergence of opinions. As to whether one of the hind feet should be 
used as a pivot, my point of view is the same as it was about the turn on 
the forehand. 

A Turn with Movement Forward (Circle y Half -Circle, etc.) 

The Mechanics. The horse in nature is probably never concerned about 
the quality of his movement, as we are about it when we ride him. A free 
horse when moving instinctively aims at one thing only: it is to move, no 
matter what the gait or speed, with the least effort (except when excited). 
You remember that the horse moves forward not merely by the effort of his 
muscles but by loss of equilibrium to the front. The horse executes a 
turn with movement forward on the same principle; that is, he takes 
such an attitude with the body as will result in a loss of balance forward 
and toward the inside of the turn. In other words, he overweighs the 
inside fore foot. If looking where he is going he usually does this by slightly 
inclining his head and neck in the direction of the turn. Some writers say 
that turning the head in the direction of the movement which loads the 
leading fore foot, also impedes its movement. There is no question but 
that any "loading" impedes high action, but I do not think it impedes flat 
forward movement. And even if it should impede it, it would still be 
practical, for it is the outside front leg which needs more freedom, hav- 
ing more ground to cover. 

The horse at liberty may, and often will, especially when frisking in 
a familiar pasture and when not going anywhere, turn differently; he will 
take his head very much to the right (wh^n turning left), will curve his 
spinal column in the direction of the turn and thus losing equilibrium 
very much in the direction of the center of the turn, will make a fast 
and rather precarious turn. On occasion the horse may turn with the 
body practically straight and with the head turned just slightly to the 
outside. Probably every one of these three described attitudes during a 
turn make instinctive sense in certain physical and mental situations and 
no one of them is definitely preferable to the horse in the abstract. 

On observations of these natural turns, and speculations on their rea- 
sons and advantages, are based different methods of riding, one school 
of thought believing that, for such and such reasons, the loading of the 
inside front foot is desirable while the other maintains that the freedom 
of its movement is a more important aim, and so forth. Anyway, at present 
one school teaches that during a circle the horse's head should be very 



144 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

slightly turned to the outside and the other school requires that the head 
should be slightly turned to the Inside; both schools give good results. 

My method Is based on the principle that the horse must look where he 
is going; in other words, he should have his head turned In the direction 
of the movement. This principle Is applied not only In the case of turns 
or circles but In many other movements as well. For instance, I teach 
that the head should be slightly turned to the left when starting a canter 
on the left lead, or when two-tracking to the left, or when making a turn 
on the haunches to the left; thus the principle is consistently used through- 
out the method and we shall discuss it further in the chapter on schooling. 
In all these movements on the intermediate level I also often teach a 
straight attitude of neck and head which Is frequently the more practical 
on this level. 

A good turn. If the horse is relaxed and the head and neck move along 
the curvature, then the horse's body will also accept the shape of the path 
along which it moves. 

On a normal field-turn, which probably will be at least 50' or 60' in 
diameter, the curvature of the horse's body is negligible; to all appearances 
the horse Is straight from nose to tail. Therefore such a turn is not an 
exercise In lateral flexibility. To flex the horse in the sides one must make 
turns of about 30' or even 20' in diameter, and such turns will require bend- 
ing of the horse. 

A circle, being a fully completed turn, is made on the same principle. 

A poor turn. In a poor turn or circle the horse may: 

1) Lose the regularity of the gait. 

2) Lose the proper attitude of the body in relation to the path by turning 

the head outward. 
B) May try to cut the circle with the forehand. 

4) May carry the hindquarters inward. 

5) May "skid" with the hindquarters outward. 

Two Tracks and Shoulder-In (Pic. 67) 

The Mechanics. Two tracks can be executed at any gait and is an 
oblique movement at a somewhat less than 45 degree angle to the direc- 
tion of the general movement. During it the outside fore leg and the out- 
side hind leg move ahead of and across the inside legs. The head is slightly 
bent in the direction of the movement. In my method two tracks is not 
practiced along a wall but only on the diagonal changes of direction 
through the middle of the ring. 

The "shoulder-in" is the same movement only with a reverse position 
of the head, and more than that, of the neck as well; the whole body of the 
horse should be bent In the right side when moving to the left (right 
shoulder-in). 

The invention of shoulder-in is usually erroneously attributed to a 
famous Frenchman, de la Gurini&re (who was active in the first half 



WHAT IS A GOOD PERFORMANCE OF THE HORSE 145 

of the 18th century). But in essence it was described a good eighty years 
earlier by an Englishman, Charles Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle. 

In the shoulder-in position the horse is awkwardly placed for movement 
to the side, but if he doesn't object to it and remains calm, he may benefit 
by this gymnastic. If you believe that awkward movements should be 
purposely used in the physical education of human beings to achieve the 
utmost suppleness, then you will see the reason for the shoulder-in. 

Divergence of opinion. I may as well state at the beginning that I be- 
lieve that except in the hands of superb riders the shoulder-in is apt to 
do more harm than good. But again I believe in general that all schooling 
exercises should consist in a gradual development of the horse's natural, 
easy, free movements. In my case even semi-collection (or "natural collec- 
tion," as Colonel H. Chamberlin prefers to call it) obtained by merely 
slowing down the gait, and combined with flexions in the mouth, should 
remain free and natural. 

It is very probable that both Newcastle and de la Gurinire, working 
with a heavy, crude type of 17th century horse, needed the shoulder-in 
and, being great masters themselves, could extract benefit from it. But 
then it so happened that the majority of writers and riders have pro- 
ceeded to use it indiscriminately with present-day thoroughbred horses. 
I know that only exceptional pupils of mine practice it to the advantage 
of the horse, and I have seen cross-country horses ridden by international 
show riders who would have been much better off if the shoulder-in had 
never been used on them. Many practices of the riders of former days are 
unnecessary now in view of a different and better horse. 

My argument may not hold water when applied to Dressage which, by 
the way, both Newcastle and de la Gu6rimre represented. Many exercises 
which may be beneficial when collection is an ultimate aim are harmful 
when free-going is the purpose. 

I am not alone in my opinion; for instance, in the French magazine, 
L'Eperon, for February 1950, there is an article by Rene Gogue who, 
speaking of shoulder-in, and after many apologies to de la Gu&riniere, 
points out that only if the horse is carefully prepared for shoulder-in by 
other exercises can it be of benefit, and says: "It is upsetting to see the 
number of horsemen who consider that a horse which goes like a crab or 
which caracols represents the ultimate." I am very sorry that in the matter 
of this exercise I feel myself obliged to disagree with both Col. H. Cham- 
berlin and the United States Cavalry School and many others who still 
believe that the shoulder-in is the A.B.C. of making a hunter or a jumper. 

When in olden days the first lesson in two tracks consisted in placing 
the horse obliquely along the wall, his face heading into it, then the dif- 
ference between two tracks and shoulder-in may not have been so great. 
But I don't use this method any more and I develop two tracks while 
moving freely, through the middle of the arena. More will be said about 
this in the chapter on schooling* 



146 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

Good Two Tracks are distinguished by the following characteristics: 

1) The movement forward is more pronounced than the movement to 
the side; in other words the horse moves freely to the front. 

2) A free movement to the side is greatly helped by the horse being 
bent in the leading side with the head and neck turned slightly to the side 
of the oblique movement. 

3) The forehand always slightly leads the hindquarters. 
Poor Two Tracks may have the following defects: 

1) The neck and head being turned to the outside impede the freedom 
of movement forward and the crossing of the legs. 

2) The ordinary speed of the gait is lost, the strides become short, and 
the two tracks degenerates into side-stepping. 

3) A resisting horse, trying to escape the legs and hands of the rider, 
increases the speed forward and greatly diminishes or completely loses 
the crossing of the legs. 

4) The hindquarters take the lead and the movement forward is 
shortened. 

A Flying Change of Leads. 

A flying change of leads can take place only during the moment of sus- 
pension (see mechanics of the canter) which comes between the last beat 
of one stride and the first beat of the next stride. 

If the horse is well-collected then the chances are greater that he will 
change from behind; in other words, that the first beat of the new canter 
will be marked by one of the hind legs. With proper schooling of the 
Dressage type, a collected horse may consistently change from behind. A 
change from the front is considered a grave mistake in Dressage riding. 
However, if the horse gallops with forward balance and is absolutely calm, 
then the chances are that he will change from the front. A well-bal- 
anced (forward balance), well-connected, agile cross-country horse will, 
while changing from the front, catch up so skillfully with the hindquarters 
that the change will be perfectly smooth. In such a case there is no reason 
at all for objecting to it and I consider such a change from the front as a 
natural result of the forward balance of the horse. But any plunging or 
other kind of jerkiness during the change, or particularly a change which 
results in a disunited gallop, should be regarded as a fault. 

Transitions, 

Transitions between movements and gaits should be quick, precise and 
smooth. The combination of quickness and smoothness cannot be ex- 
pected at the beginning of schooling; it is developed gradually. The first 
aim is smoothness alone, while the rapidity of the change is little by little 
added to it. 

As there are horses who can negotiate only a single jump calmly and 
which become increasingly upset galloping over a course (cause bad 
schooling), so there are horses who will do, let us say, two tracks well by 
itself but not as part of a program. Any movement by itself, no matter 



WHAT IS A GOOD PERFORMANCE OF THE HORSE 147 

how well executed, has little practical value in the general performance 
of the horse and it is only in combination with other gaits, speeds and 
movements that it can be taken as a proof that the horse is prepared to 
serve in cross-country riding. 

Short Turn at the Gallop. In some of the jumping competitions in 
today's shows (1962), the courses are so tight and have such sharp turns 
that turning on the curve of a small half-circle may not be efficient enough, 
particularly in view of the modern vogue for speed. Today I therefore 
teach a short turn at the gallop. 

This turn is neither a half-circle (where the hindlegs track the forelegs) 
nor a turn on the haunches (where the hindlegs remain almost in place); 
it is something in between. In this turn the curve described by the forehand 
is larger than the one described by the quarters, and both are larger than 
the corresponding curves at a turn on the haunches. 

In a good short turn at the gallop the horse's neck and head remain 
straight and, during the turn, all the beats of the gallop are preserved. 
These result from the relaxation and cooperation of the horse. On the 
other hand, in a bad turn, the neck will go straight up, or up and to the 
side, the mouth will remain open, and the beats of the gallop will degen- 
erate into a scramble. 



CHAPTER X 



Why Collected Gaits Have No Place 
in Forward Schooling 

This chapter concerns the mechanics of the horse's movements and, 
as such, Is in a sense a continuation of the previous one. However, Instead 
of describing various movements, It deals with the horse's basic efforts, 
which are applicable to all movements. 

Don't be misled Into thinking that because It does not consist of pure 
practical advice It may be neglected. A knowledge of the subjects which 
It covers, such as balance , engagement, mechanics of the horse's jumping, 
is of fundamental importance, for on an understanding of them were 
conceived the Forward Seat, Forward Control and Forward Schooling. 
But, of course, this subject is for the advanced rider, not for the beginner. 

THE BALANCE OF THE HORSE IN MOTION 

The balance of the horse in motion was rather briefly described on 
pages 34-38 and 116-117 and was referred to in other places. Here, writing 
about it at considerable length, I find that in order to make this text 
readable I shall have to repeat some of the statements previously made, 
which is perhaps for the better, for I know from experience that such 
repetitions are necessary in actual teaching. 

When, ages ago, 1 was learning to ride, I was told by my teachers 
that the horse is in a state of equilibrium only when the weight is evenly 
distributed on all four feet a table, with its four legs, was usually 
brought up as a good parallel. Somehow it never occurred to most riders 
of those days that there is nothing in common between the state of 
balance of a motionless table (or a horse) and the fluid balance of a 
moving horse. Many more horsemen today distinguish between the static 
balance of a horse at a halt and the dynamic balance of a moving horse. 
At a standstill the balance of all animals depends merely on a certain 
distribution of weight, while the balance of the same animals in motion 
is much more complex and depends on various physical efforts. (111. No. 
I and II.) 

The forward movement of all animals is the result not only of the 
propulsive actions of the legs (the hind legs in the case of the horse), but 
of a necessary recurrent loss of equilibrium to the front as well. For 
Instance, a man when walking, first shifts his weight forward, taking it 

148 



NO PLACE IN FORWARD SCHOOLING 



149 



111. No. I. 

Courtesy of Mrs. Robert 
Carter, M.F.H. 



111. No. II. 

Courtesy of Miss Joan Harjes. 




111. No. I and II. The dynamic balance of a horse in motion depends on his 

agility and strength. 

off the foot which is still on the ground, losing his balance to the front 
and catching it again on the leg being put down ahead of the body; he 
aids himself with balancing gestures of his arms. The bigger the steps 
the more pronounced is the shifting of the weight forward that is, the 
bigger the momentary loss of equilibrium to the front. Similarly, the 
forward movement of a horse consists of continually alternating mo- 
ments of stability and instability. Balance is the ability to cope with this 
phenomenon efficiently. The same conception of balance is thus described 
by other horsemen: 

1) "The equilibrium of a free horse ... is achieved at a stand-still 
by the projection of the center of gravity on the base of support, and 



150 WHY COLLECTED GAITS HAVE 

in motion by the uninterrupted succession of momentary losses and 
retrievals of equilibrium." (From M&CHANIQUE QUESTRE by Docteur- 
Veterinaire Andr4 p. 238, published in 1950. The translation is mine.) 

2) "The movements of the body over the ground imply displacements 
of the center of gravity, and consequently, a destruction of the initial 
equilibrium, which incessantly compels the members to form new 
bases of support/' (From the English translation of a French book, 
originally published in 1884, THE EXTERIOR OF THE HORSE, by A. Gou- 
baux and G. Barrier, page 478). 

It so happens that horsemen, while always remembering the base of 
support, often forget that a movement is the disturbance of the equilib- 
rium achieved on that base of support. Confusion in understanding the 
balance of the horse in motion is thus rather common. 

The mechanics of dynamic balance were known before my teachers 
were born, but, then as now, many riders would rather believe the 
traditional tack-room yarns than make an effort to study the theory of 
equitation. 

Now look at illustration No. I and try to figure out why this horse 
hasn't fallen flat on his nose. The answer is simple: every time the horse 
was in a similarly precarious situation and was about to fall, a certain 
leg moved forward into a position of support and was strong enough 
to do the job. The same reasoning can be applied to illustration No. II. 
These two pictures indicate that the balance of the horse in motion 
depends mainly on agility and strength. 

A well-made, green colt has by nature enough agility and strength 
to balance himself. However, he doesn't possess these two qualities in 
sufficient degree to move in perfect balance under the weight of the 
rider. His legs, which must alternately come into support, are always a 
fraction of a second too late, and often, even when in the right position 
to restore balance, they are not strong enough to take care of both 
the horse's and the rider's weights. Hence a colt is usually too heavy in 
front and is apt to stumble. 

The basic aim of schooling is to restore to the horse under the rider 
the natural balance of a free horse. There are several ways of going about 
it. If you were to do nothing but hack your colt regularly and feed him 
well, in time, without any special effort on your part, he would acquire 
enough strength and agility to carry you with ease. If you wish to do 
the job more quickly and to obtain better results, you would be wise 
to. hack part of the time up and downhill and to jump at least low 
fences, particularly different combinations of them. But if you wish to 
solve the problem really efficiently and still faster, you will have to give 
your colt formal schooling. This will consist not only of cross-country 
riding and jumping, but of certain exercises as well, such as changing 
speeds at gaits, for instance. 



NO PLACE IN FORWARD SCHOOLING 151 

For several reasons fully collected gaits cannot be regarded as helpful 
for any type of riding where speed or jumping play an important role. 
One of these reasons is the fact that the balancing efforts required at a 
gallop and in jumping are quite different from those necessary at col- 
lected gaits. In galloping and jumping the constantly repeated losses 
of equilibrium are much greater than at slow, collected gaits; one may 
even say that this difference is enormous. Consequently, the skill in 
using balancing efforts which the horse learns at collected gaits is of no 
help at all for galloping and jumping. The efforts necessary for the 
latter axe violent by comparison with the gentle ones which suffice for 
slow gaits. The skill in the use of legs, back and neck required for main- 
taining balance at a gallop and in jumping cannot be developed by 
exercises at collected gaits, which do not call for the same efforts from 
the horse. 

At the speed of an ordinary canter (10 m.p.h.) the horse will use his 
back and neck and head and will use them still more at the gallop and 
in jumping. The back will contract and expand, and the neck and head 
will move up and down, making what are called "balancing gestures/' 
You know that your loins work harder when you run or jump than when 
you merely walk, and when walking fast you will probably swing your 
arms. The horse's equivalent of the balancing efforts of human arms is 
the use of his neck and head, and when walking freely the horse will 
swing his neck and head up and down. It is only at the trot, the most 
stable gait of all, that the horse doesn't need the auxiliary balancing 
efforts of the neck. 

The more freely the horse is allowed to move, the stronger are the 
balancing gestures of the neck and head; these efforts are synchronized 
with the action of the back. In jumping, all these efforts are very 
strong and are only diminished if the obstacle is an easy height for the 
horse and if he takes it at sufficient speed (when "acrobatics" are less 
necessary). 

On the other hand, at slow, short gaits where the amount of recur- 
rently lost equilibrium is negligible the horse does not need as much 
assistance from the auxiliary balancing efforts of the neck and head. 
This is particularly so at restrained collected gaits, and for that reason, 
of course, it was possible for dressage riders to establish the rule that 
"the neck should be erect and stay steady on the withers and shoulders, 
without moving about." (Notes on Dressage, published by the American 
Horse Shows Association.) 

In spite of the fact that in motion a part of the horse's weight is 
constantly shifted back and forth, one may consider such a thing as the 
average point of the center of gravity of a horse's body. When the horse 
is ridden on the principle of free going when he holds himself in an 
extended attitude and is calm the average point of his center of gravity 



152 WHY COLLECTED GAITS HAVE 

is farther forward than when the horse Is collected. Hence, the former 
kind of equilibrium at gaits is usually called "forward" balance, while 
the latter is called "central" balance. By fully collecting a horse it is 
possible to shift so much weight to the hindquarters that balance will 
be a "rear" one. 

In order to achieve a rapid slowing-down, or an abrupt halt from a 
fast gait, the horse must quickly transfer part of his weight from the 
front to the rear. In other words, he has to change his average balance 
from the forward one to at least the central one. And on resuming his 
former gait and speed, he has to move his point of average center of 
gravity forward again. This ability of the horse to play with the distribu- 
tion of his weight (shifting it forward or to the rear as necessary) is 
an important element of balance in the broad sense of the term. This Is 
where the semi-collection judiciously used (on advanced level of school- 
ing) in abrupt slowing down or halting may be useful In training of 
some horses, but not necessarily all. 

It is easy to train a normally cooperative well-made horse to shift his 
weight readily on voice commands only, in order to achieve an abrupt 
halt on loose reins. Picture No. Ill Illustrates such a case. 




111. No. III. A green horse making an abrupt 
halt. Courtesy of Miss Virginia Delamater. 

The horse in this picture was bought from the race track only two 
and a half months before the photograph was taken. He is still, of course, 
completely green, but being of a cooperative nature and being trained 
along sound principles, he already makes a rapid (although still awk- 
ward) halt, the rider depending more on the voice than on the reins. 
The case of this horse, which is quite typical, is the best answer to the 
argument that work at collected gaits is necessary for abrupt halting, 
or "coming back" in general. This kind of halting, from the point of 



NO PLACE IN FORWARD SCHOOLING 153 

view of the mechanics of the horse's movements, has little in common 
with collected gaits (or even semi-collected ones). 

Now, why does a calm horse normally perform with "forward bal- 
ance?" This phenomenon originates in the fact that the horse's weight 
is not evenly distributed throughout his body. If a horse is put on two 
scales one under his forehand and the other under his hindquarters 
and the operator waits until the horse is standing in a relaxed manner 
before taking the reading, he will find out that about three-fifths of 
the horse's weight is on the forehand. This distribution of weight is the 
result of millions of years of natural selective breeding with speed as 
the aim. The preponderance of weight on the forehand makes it easy 
to lose equilibrium to the front without which speed is impossible. 

From this weighing of the horse it is easy to deduce that the average 
"forward balance" would be the most natural for horses when they are 
calm. (What happens when a free horse becomes excited, you will read 
in the section on "Collection.") This distribution of weight also indi- 
cates that at an easy, restful halt the horse will iiave the preponderance 
of weight on the forehand. 

All this means that the common argument of Dressage riders that 
"horses schooled in accordance with the principles of Forward Riding 
are heavy in front" really doesn't make sense. In order to perform in a 
natural, non-fatiguing, easy manner they should maintain their natural 
distribution of weight, and particularly so when performing at speed. 

So far 1 have discussed the problem of balance only when moving 
straight ahead. But what about turns? Everything I have said applies to 
turning as well. In the latter case the problem becomes even more com- 
plex, due to the leaning of the horse in the direction of the turn. This 
leaning increases with speed. 

Even if we are to consider that the balancing efforts when turning 
at speed are fundamentally the same as those required from a horse 
when turning at a slow gait, they are much stronger in the first case 
than in the second one; and the manipulation with the legs necessary 
to retrieve the recurrently lost equilibrium must be as fast as the cor- 
responding speed. Thus, although the efforts may be similar in both 
cases, the skill in using them is quite different. This is the reason why 
small circles at collected gaits do not teach a horse how to handle him- 
self on turns at speed. Practice on very large circles at the speed of an 
ordinary canter (about 10 m.p.h.)- and eventually even somewhat faster 
is an important exercise for hunters and jumpers. 

THE TERMS "ENGAGEMENT" AND "COLLECTION." 

The term "engagement" is usually confusingly used in two senses; it 
was thus originally used in this book. A clarification of this subject is 
therefore necessary. In one sense it is used to denote the movement of a 



154 WHY COLLECTED GAITS HAVE 

hind leg well forward under the horse's belly (as In free or fast gaits); 
In the other sense the same word denotes a rather short movement of 
the hind leg forward and correspondingly short movement back from 
under the body with perceptible bending and unbending in all joints, 
and particularly in the hocks (as at collected gaits). 

Please examine illustration No. IV. It shows the free trot of a com- 
pletely green colt who had been ridden for only about six weeks. 
Note the great engagement of the hind leg in its movement forward. 
Also note that the "disengagement" (backward swing) of the other hind 
leg is as great; the legs swing like the pendulum of a clock. Then 
compare this with illustration No. V which represents the acme of col- 
lection the Piaffe (trot in place). 

You will observe that in the Piaffe the hind legs don't move forward 
at all under the belly, toward the front of the horse's body; they merely 
move up and down in the same place under the croup. In this case 
there is no engagement at all (in the previous sense) and no engagement 
means no disengagement either. 

This is the most conspicuous example of the use of the term "engage- 
ment" in the second sense. In all the possible variations of gaits a 
certain relationship always exists between the swing of the hind leg 
forward toward the front of the horse's body and its swing back from 
under the body. At collected gaits, even at the Passage, the hind legs 
also swing back from under the body. But in this case the disengage- 
ment is smaller than at free gaits for the simple reason that the engage- 
ment (thrust forward) is also smaller. 

Mechanically speaking, the horse's hoof engages when it comes in 
contact with the ground. Depending, however, on the type of the thrust 
of the hind leg forward from which this contact has resulted, the leg 
will eventually exert its propulsion in different ways. Thus it is the 
manner in which the hind leg moves forward which ultimately de- 
termines the character of the movement. The type of engagement which 
is characterized by a very marked forward movement of the hind legs 
under the horse's body and by little perceptible flexion at the hocks, 
produces long flat strides. But, a shorter but energetic engagement, with 
conspicuous flexion at the hocks, produces short and high strides. 

While the hind leg is in the process of engaging that is, of moving 
forward under the horse's belly it is passive. And even for a moment 
after the hoof has come in contact with the ground, it is passive, as far 
as propulsion goes and acts merely as a support. At this moment the 
horse's body is being moved forward by the backward thrust of the 
other hind leg. But just as the first hind leg on its way back passes 
the moment of being vertical to the ground it begins its productive 
work of pushing against the ground. (To add to the confusion in the 
use of the term "engagement" some horsemen consider it begins only 



NO PLACE IN FORWARD SCHOOLING 155 

at this moment.) The productive thrusts of the hind legs are aimed 
backward and thus push the horse forward. The length of the back- 
ward thrust Is In direct relation to the length of the engagement (In 
the first sense). The further the hind leg swings forward, the longer 
will be the extent of Its backward push. General Decarpentry writes 
on page 112 of his book EQUITATION ACADEMIQUE: "The further the hind 
leg is behind the line of the vertical at the end of its effort, and the more 
the resultant push acts from the rear to the front, the greater is the 
extension of the gait/* (The translation Is mine.) 

As long as speed of the gait, at least partially, depends on the 
degree of engagement forward, the greatest forward engagement at a 
trot will be at a racing trot. A considerably lesser engagement will 
produce an "ordinary" trot; a quite small engagement will suffice to 
obtain a simple, "doggy" slow trot. At a collected trot the engagement 
in this sense Is smaller than at the ordinary, free trot (8 m.p.h.) because 
the collected trot is slower. The Piaffe, being a trot in place, obviously 
doesn't require any engagement of the hind legs (111. No. V); they just 
mark time in place. If at some moment of the Piaffe the hind legs 
should begin to move forward under the horse's belly, the horse would 
be pushed forward and would begin to move ahead, and this would be 
the end of the Piaffe. 

On the other hand, something else very Important which doesn't 
occur at the ordinary gaits happens to the hind legs of the horse (and, 
as a matter of fact, to the whole horse) during the Piaffe. That is the 
bending considerably greater than at ordinary gaits of the hind legs 
in all joints and particularly In the hocks (look again at 111. No. V). This 
occurs because full collection Is obtained, first of all, through shifting a 
certain part of the weight from the front to the quarters (more or less 
depending on the school), and thus the hind legs are forced to bend 
in the hocks to accept and carry this additional weight. As the result 
the back of the horse slopes to the rear, and the croup Is consequently 
lowered. This "lowering of the croup" or 'lowering of the hindquarters" 
(both are proper technical terms) is often also called "engagement," and 
here is where the misunderstandings take place. While the "engagement" 
in the sense of the engagement of the hind legs of a free-moving horse 
(111. No. IV) will produce long, flat strides, the "engagement" in the 
sense of the lowering of the croup (111. No. V) will produce com- 
paratively short but high and dramatic steps. 

When reading this book bear in mind that the term "engagement" is 
used in both senses, depending on whether free or collected gaits are 
referred to. 

Now why should shifting the weight to the rear result in high action? 
It is quite natural, mechanically speaking, that when the hind legs 
carry so much weight that they are forced to bend in the joints, they 



156 



WHY COLLECTED GAITS HAVE 




111. No. IV. The free trot of a green colt. 111. No. V. The acme of collection at a 

Note the degree of engagement. Cour- trot the Piaffe (trot in place). Note the 

tesy of Mrs. Robert Carter III. complete absence of engagement; also 

the "lowering of the croup." 

will push more strongly upward than forward. On the other hand, the 
greatly lightened forehand can now play upward with ease and will do 
so if the rider maintains the energy of movement (impulsion) while not 
allowing the horse to transform it into speed. There is nothing new in 
what I am saying; in the pamphlet Notes on Dressage, published by the 
American Horse Shows Association, you may read that at a collected 
walk "by lowering the hindquarters the horse lightens the forehand . ." 
The lowering of the croup, in different degrees, is typical of all 
manifestations of collected gaits. Normally at the Passage (a very slow, 
high, very cadenced trot) it will be smaller than at the Piaffe (in the case 
of the same horse), and at a simple, collected trot it may be quite 
unnoticeable to the eye. The general principle in this respect is that 
the lightening of the forehand is the foundation of all gaits with high 
action. Nothing of the sort takes place at the free ordinary or fast gaits 
at which a hunter or a jumper should perform. The free gaits are based 
on the average forward balance and on efforts different from those 
i|sed in collected gaits. This is one of the important reasons why 
practice at collected gaits is not helpful in schooling hunters and 
jumpers. One may even say that long practice in moving with short 
and high strides, with the weight shifted to the hindquarters and hocks 
bent, will, in the great majority of cases, be detrimental in establishing 



NO PLACE IN FORWARD SCHOOLING 157 

in a hunter or a jumper the habit of moving with efficient, long, flat 
strides that Is, with strides that cover ground without wasting expendi- 
tures of energy merely for showiness. 

Ideally, it is possible to school a horse so that he will, at the wish of 
his rider, move either with high (much knee and hock action), well- 
cadenced, comparatively short strides or extend himself and move 
forward with long, flat strides, and do both to perfection. In practice, 
however, it doesn't work this way, and such cases are extremely rare 
occurring only with a lucky combination of outstanding horse and 
great horseman. Obviously it is easier to school a colt for one specific 
type of work than to make a universal horse out of him. It would seem, 
however, that a universal horse should be a common occurrence because 
both free and collected movements are natural to a horse. But there is 
a hitch to it: 

When a free horse moves merely to get from one part of the pasture 
to another and is calm while traveling, he then carries himself in an 
extended attitude (average "forward balance"), because this is the 
most economical way to get places. On the other hand, if the same 
horse becomes excited, he raises his neck, shifts part of his weight to the 
hindquarters, lowers his croup, bends his hind legs (average "central" 
or "rear" balance) and begins to move with high, showy steps (collec- 
tion). In nature this shifting from one type of movement to another 
works very well. The difficulties in achieving this combination of dif- 
ferent types of gaits under the saddle spring mainly from the different 
emotional backgrounds of the free and collected gaits. It is not natural 
for the horse to produce brilliant, collected gaits when he is calm; in 
nature he exhibits them only when emotionally stimulated either by 
love, fright or playfulness. It is quite artificial for the horse to move 
dramatically without emotional stimulation and to do it merely at his 
rider's wish. This is, of course, one of the reasons why a rider who is not 
sufficiently good invariably upsets his horse on attempting to teach him 
collection. However, a good trainer can obtain full collection without 
upsetting his horse in the least. To achieve this he has to work very 
gradually, systematically and tactfully. He has to work so much at 
collected gaits that they become a habit, completely disassociated in the 
horse's mind from the natural collection of moments of excitement; at 
least emotionally, a natural movement has to be turned into an artificial 
one. This long work at collected gaits establishes in the horse a certain 
way of balancing himself and a certain way of acting with the legs and 
the rest of his body, and hence is detrimental to free going, which calls 
for different balancing efforts and for a different skill in the use of 
legs, back, neck and head. In other words, it is difficult to have your 
cake and eat it. 



158 WHY COLLECTED GAITS HAVE 

THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE GAITS AND THE JUMP 

The following analysis of the mechanics of the horse in jumping 
relates to ordinary good jumping in the hunting field, in cross-country 
competitions, in showing hunters, in horsemanship classes and all other 
similar equestrian activities in which a good amateur is apt to partici- 
pate. On the other hand, this text does not take into consideration the 
unusually talented horses who, as geniuses in jumping, may have their 
own peculiar techniques. Neither does this text consider the schooling 
of such horses for international competitions, which is a rather special 
art. 

During the jump the horse finds himself in physical situations not 
encountered at gaits. Consequently, although he uses the same parts of 
his body for propulsion and for balance as on the flat, the particular 
use of them in this case makes a jump a movement all by itself. This is, 
of course, why: 

One cannot make a jumper by schooling a horse exclusively on the 
flat. It is only practice over obstacles, and particularly jumping exercises, 
that can develop a jump to perfection. Furthermore, there is such a 
thing as a talent for jumping some completely green horses, with little 
practice over fences, jump better than other horses who have undergone 
a long and complicated general schooling and had the same jumping 
experience, but who have no natural ability for jumping. 

The most that general schooling can do toward better jumping is to 
develop the horse's muscles, his balancing efforts (shifting of the weight 
back and forth), his ability to lengthen and shorten his stride at will 
(necessary for "placing" for the take-off), and his cooperation with his 
rider in galloping between obstacles. The actual jumping technique, 
quite obviously, can be developed through jumping only. 

However, some types of schooling on the flat may favor the develop- 
ment of jumping efforts, while other types may be harmful to them. 
Riding and schooling which allow the horse free play with his back and 
neck are distinctly favorable for jumping, while restrained, collected 
gaits with fixed neck and head, and with the rider (using the Dressage 
Seat) tend to be harmful in the great majority of cases. 

Volumes have been written about the mechanics of the horse's efforts 
during the two short seconds that the average jump lasts. We don't need 
to go into a detailed analysis of all of them here; I shall discuss only 
those efforts which are outstandingly important and, as such, should 
be familiar to everyone who rides over obstacles/As a matter of fact, 
we can confine our survey almost exclusively to the efforts of the take-off, 
because it sets the key for the rest of the jump. 

Let us start with the balance of the horse in jumping. The photo- 
graphs numbered VI, VII and VIII illustrate the obvious fact that 



NO PLACE IN FORWARD SCHOOLING 



159 




111. No. VI. The upward flight. The for- 111. No. VII. The apex of the jump. The 

ward-and-downwaid Balancing gestures end of the neck-and-head-forward-and- 
of the neck and head. Courtesy of Mr. downward gesture. 

Harry de Leyer. 

throughout the jump there is complete absence of stability on the 
ground. The often referred to base of support is non-existent. The 
dynamic balance of the horse over the jump is that of a projectile with 
inner forces. During this period he makes efforts with his neck and 
head, back and limbs which will enable him to land in a proper attitude 
to resume his balance at the gait that follows the jump. The relative 
success of these efforts depends only on the agility and muscular strength 
of the horse. 

When a man jumps he uses his loins and his back more strenuously 
than when he walks or runs, and the swing of his arms is also much 
stronger. So it is with the horse; throughout the jump a free horse uses 
his loins, his back and his neck strongly. The balancing gestures of the 
horse's neck and head (upward and downward) are synchronized with 
the efforts of the back. If the neck is held stiffly immobile, the back 
doesn't work either. If, for instance, the horse jumps with an immobile 
neck held high, the back remains caved-in throughout the flight (111. No. 
IX). During the jump (over a big obstacle) the back and, correspond- 
ingly, the neck and head make five distinct efforts. The two most con- 
spicuous ones are easily observed even by an untrained eye. These are: 
1) the upward curve of the back during the upward flight and the 
simultaneous forward and downward swing of the neck and head. (111. 
No. VI); and 2) the caving-in of the back during the downward flight 
with simultaneous swing of the neck and head upward and to the rear 
(111. No. VIII). 



160 



WHY COLLECTED GAITS HAVE 




111. No. VIII. The downward flight. The 111. No. IX. In jumping, if the horse's 

upward-and-backward gesture of the neck is held stiffly immobile and high, 

neck and head. his back doesn't work either and remains 

caved in throughout the flight. Courtesy 
of Miss Bonnie Cornelius. 

Consequently the first conclusion that anyone studying jumping is 
bound to reach is that it is important that the mounted horse be in the 
habit of being free to act with his neck and head, because thus he may 
preserve for jumping the instinctive balancing gestures of the neck and 
head. And the natural deduction from the above would be that col- 
lected gaits, which require a continuously raised neck, and a head per- 
manently held in an almost vertical position, may make the horse 
eventually lose the ability to use the neck with ease and power when 
negotiating an obstacle. And, since the jumping efforts of the back 
occur only when the neck is active, collected gaits cannot be considered 
helpful to these efforts either. 

True enough, we have all seen horses which were schooled at collected 
gaits and still used their necks and backs in jumping; but such cases 
are exceptions rather than the rule and depend almost every time on 
exceptionally good riding, and very clever use of collection in schooling. 
With an average horse, ridden by an average rider, it will rarely work 
this way. 

As a general rule, only gaits and exercises which require constant use 
of the back (shortening it, lengthening it, curving it upward and caving 
it in) in unison with balancing-gestures of the neck may be helpful 
in preserving in the horse his natural way of jumping. Such exercises 
include galloping, riding up and downhill, abrupt changes of speeds 



NO PLACE IN FORWARD SCHOOLING 161 

and gaits, backing after an abrupt and very short halt followed Im- 
mediately by resumption of the gait. These, and other exercises, will be 
helpful only If the rider's hands don't Interfere with the actions of the 
neck ("following" arms), and the rider's weight is kept off the horse's 
back. But, because jumping Is basically very different from the gaits, 
the above exercises are merely helpful; only actual practice over obstacles 
and particularly jumping exercises can develop the jumping efforts 
of a horse to perfection. 

As long as half of the secret of easy, natural jumping lies in the horse's 
use of his loins, back and neck, it Is necessary (for purely practical pur- 
poses) to discuss these actions a little further. The strength of the neck's 
balancing efforts depends somewhat on Its attitude; the more extended 
Is the neck the more effective are its upward and downward swings, 
and correspondingly stronger the efforts of the back (111. No. X). This is 
one of the reasons (not the only one) why during the last strides of the 
approach to a fence the horse, preparing for the jump, stretches his 
neck and head forward (111. No. XI) when permitted by the rider. This 
extension of the neck and head comes naturally and easily only if the 
horse is always ridden on the principle of free going. The habit of mov- 
ing at collected gaits with the neck and head always in a set position may 
(and in most cases will) become stronger than the instinctive desire of 
the horse to get his neck and head Into an advantageous attitude for 
use as a "balancer." 

But, of course, permitting the horse to stretch his neck and head 
during the approach to an obstacle is not all that the rider has to do 
with his arms in jumping. He must also make certain not to interfere 
with the actual balancing movements of the horse's neck during the jump 
itself. It Is important that during this time the horse be confident that 
his rider will not interfere with these balancing efforts of his neck. 
This confidence comes only after long acquaintance with his rider's non- 
interference. This means (and here I repeat myself) that not only while 
jumping, but throughout schooling and general riding on the flat, the 
horse must enjoy the liberty of his neck; the rider must always "follow" 
with his arms the natural movements of the horse's neck. This obviously 
precludes long work at collected gaits and how can one develop col- 
lected gaits of any quality unless one works at them persistently? 

Here I would like to stress again the fact that the loins and back of 
the horse, as much as the neck, need freedom of action during the 
jump. 

This is where the Forward Seat is invaluable. The horse must be 
confident that he will be able to use his back when jumping, which 
means that not only during the approach to the obstacle but during 
most of the schooling and riding in general he has experienced the 
freedom of his back. I do not mean to say that horses cannot jump with 



162 



WHY COLLECTED GAITS HAVE 




Photo by Raine Studios 



III No. X. An example of vigorous use of neck and back. Compare the efforts 
of this horse with those in 111. No. IX. Courtesy of Bernie Traurig. 




111. No. XL Nearing the fence, the horse, if allowed to, extends his head and 
neck (unless he is moving at a fast gallop with neck and head already extended). 
This gesture: 

1) prepares the neck and head for the balancing gestures during the jump, 

2) assists in loading the forehand for a strong upward thrust, 

3) helps the horse to raise the croup for a strong and simultaneous engage- 
ment of both hind legs. See also 111. No. XVII. Courtesy of Mrs. Raymond 

Norton, Jr. 



NO PLACE IN FORWARD SCHOOLING 163 

stiff backs and correspondingly immobile necks. As we all witness 
unhappily all too frequently horses abused In thfese ways can by sheer 
strength and boldness jump and clear big obstacles. I merely wish to point 
out that under such unnatural conditions horses cannot jump easily and 
naturally, and I doubt very much that they can enjoy such jumping. 

Now let us look at the action of the horse's legs during the take-off. 
The old saying that the horse "jumps off his hocks" Is only partially 
correct; he also jumps off his forehand. With two almost simultaneous 
upward (but not necessarily equally strong) thrusts with the forelegs, he 
raises the front (111. No. XII), and with two, also almost simultaneous, 
thrusts of the hind legs he propels himself forward and upward along 
the line of the angle to the ground given to his body (partially by the 
upward thrusts with the forehand, III. No. XIII). 

To carry a horse over a big obstacle, the thrusts with both the fore- 
hand and the hindquarters have to be strong. If you wish to push your- 
self upward with your hands upon a table, you will first of all put 
a lot of weight on them, because only then can your arms give a power- 
ful upward thrust. So it Is with the horse. To give a strong thrust with 
the forehand (the push is against the ground) the- horse must have 
sufficient weight on It. Furthermore, to be able, at practically the same 
time, to engage the hind legs well under the body (in preparation for 
their thrusts) the croup must at least during the last stride be held 
higher than the forehand (111. No. XI). During the last strides of the 
approach, when the neck and head stretch forward (thus augmenting 
the weight on the forehand) the croup can then be easily raised higher 
than the forehand, and (III. No. XI) thus the stage is set for both the 
thrust with the forehand and engagement of the hindquarters. This Is 
another and most important reason why a horse, on nearing an obstacle, 
likes to extend his neck. And this Is the reason why a horse prefers to 
approach a jump with average forward balance that is, with the pre- 
ponderance of the weight on the forehand. On the other hand, the 
habit of moving at collected gaits, with weight predominantly on the 
hindquarters (with lowered croup), obviously interferes with the horse's 
natural manner of preparing himself for both the thrust with the fore- 
hand and the thrust with the hindquarters (under certain circumstances, 
however, the horse can also jump like a jack-rabbit). 

The engagement of the hind legs In preparation for the take-off 
differs greatly from their engagement at gaits. While at gaits each of the 
hind legs engage separately, during the take-off for a jump both hind 
legs engage simultaneously (this requires a special technique) and are 
placed on the ground as nearly as possible on the same line (111. No. 
XIV). Failure to line up the hind legs weakens the total strength of their 
thrusts, and the jump also loses In compactness. Green jumpers often 
fail to achieve this "lining up" (111. No. XV). 




111. No. XII. The upward thrust (originally against the ground) with the fore- 
hand in progress. The uneven positions of the two forelegs indicate that each 
foreleg gave a separate thrust a fraction of a second apart. Note an excellent 
engagement of perfectly lined up hind legs. Courtesy of Miss Cynthia Banister. 



111. No. XIII. The end of the thrusts 

with the hind legs. Courtesy of Mrs. 

Raymond Morton, Jr. 




111. No. XIV. Having the hind legs bent in all joints the horse "sits," for a 

fraction of a second, on his hocks and thus, with the full weight of his body on 

the hind legs, compresses a spring. In another fraction of a second he will release 

it, pushing against ground. 



NO PLACE IN FORWARD SCHOOLING 



165 




111. No. XV. During the take-off in jumping both hind legs engage simultaneously 
and are placed on the ground as nearly as possible on the same line. Courtesy 

of Miss Stephanie Steck. 

The efforts of the horse's hind legs during the talce-off are rather 
similar to those of a man's legs in a jump from a standstill; the man, 
bending his knees and closing other angles in his body, compresses a 
spring in his legs and then releases it against the ground. The horse 
does the same thing with Ms hind legs; "sitting" on his hocks, with 
the whole of his weight on the hind legs, he compresses the spring and 
then releases it against the ground* Neither man nor horse does any- 
thing of the kind when merely walking or running. Of course, the 
stronger the muscles of the hind legs, the stronger the spring. This is 
where general riding and schooling are helpful particularly so if the 
exercises selected tend to develop long pushes, as In the gallop rather 
than the short ones typical of collected gaits. For instance, trotting and 
cantering up hill constitute good exercise for developing the muscles 
of the hind legs. And here is an important detail: In order to achieve 
a strong and simultaneous engagement of both hind legs and the conse- 
quent strong thrust, the horse must have the back, and particularly the 
loins, unencumbered so that not only the hind legs but the entire 
hindquarters can take part in the movement (111. No. XVI). 

There is a moment of the approach to which we often hear the term 
"collection" applied. This is the so-called "placing." In order to take 
off at the most advantageous distance from the obstacle, more often 
than not the horse on approaching a fence has either to lengthen or 
shorten one, two or three strides ("placing"); or the rider has to oblige 
him to do it (the former is more desirable). The slower the gait (free 
or collected), the shorter are the strides; consequently any mistake in 
placing is bound to be smaller, and it is easier to make the necessary 



166 



WHY COLLECTED GAITS HAVE 




111. No. XVI. Green jumpers are often unable to engage their hind legs so that 

the hoofs strike the ground on the same line. An experienced jumper may do 

the same thing when idling over a low fence. Courtesy of Knox School. 

readjustments in the length of the stride. This is where it is easy, from 
a superficial point of view, to make the mistake of believing that a 
collected canter is preferable for the approach failing to take into 
consideration its numerous disadvantages, which I have pointed out. 
Anyway, jumping at a slow canter doesn't solve the problems of today's 
jumping. Lately, as you know, speed has been required in many jumping 
competitions; it is normally called for in hunter classes and usually plays 
a considerable part in actual foxhunting. Consequently, although we all 
begin practice over obstacles at a speed slower than the ordinary 
canter, we gradually increase the pace of the approach. We have 
eventually to reach the point where the horse can play with his strides 
and thus "place** himself correctly for the jump even at speed. The 
exercise "three speeds at the gallop" is particularly helpful in this 
respect, because it teaches the horse to change the length of his strides 
both ways. And one doesn't have to collect a horse to make him "come 
back." (See the text on collection and semi-collection.) 

Everything that I have said above concerning the horse's mechanics 
in jumping, although true, applies only to the calm jumping of a horse 
who negotiates a specific fence with ease; the obstacle may be three feet 
or five feet high, depending on the horse's natural ability and the 
stage of his schooling. These mechanics, however, may vary from one 
set of circumstances to another. The fact that jumping is not one 
hundred percent physical, but involves mental and emotional factors 
as well, contributes to this variation. A clever horse will frequently 
figure out the jump better than a stupid one, thus negotiating it with 
less physical effort. An ambitious animal, in his desire to clear the 
obstacle, may rise to an emotional pitch which will often produce sur- 
prisingly good results, even with an awkward use of the body. Besides 



NO PLACE IN FORWARD SCHOOLING 






167 




111. No. XVII. Only if tlie horse moves with average forward balance and the 
rider has his weight off the horse's back, can the whole hindquarters easily 
participate in the engagement of the hind legs. Courtesy of Miss Martha Albro. 

this, both correct "placing" and correct impulsion may be the result 
of the riding; and the animal may jump with ease or with a forced 
effort depending upon whether the rider's technique is refined or rough. 
As a matter of fact, it is quite inaccurate to talk about jumping or about 
riding in general in terms of black or white. For instance, how many 
riders in hunter classes do we not constantly see banging their horses' 
backs while galloping between fences and yet many of these horses 
still gallop and jump well. In the same way many horses who have 
never enjoyed the freedom of using their necks and heads as "balancers" 
will jump just as efficiently. In these and similar cases, the riders' inter- 
ference with the horses* natural mechanics is obviously compensated 
for by either the horses* strength, his boldness, natural agility, experience, 
habit, or by clever although rough riding. In open jumping (both inter- 
national and domestic) a common sight is a horse who, while being 
simultaneously urged forward by the rider's legs and checked by his 
hands, approaches the. obstacle with central balance, neck up and chin in. 
Some of these horses either quickly extend themselves, if given the 
liberty to do so during the last one or two strides before the jump, or 
even jump and clear fences in this seemingly awkward attitude. The 
reason for this lies in the fact that the horse can execute a jump in 
different ways, as he can any other movement. The text in the previous 
chapter that described how a free horse starts, a canter explains such 
facts. 

In writing this book I have been influenced by an appreciation of 
the beauty of an easy fluid performance of the horse. Coupled with 



168 



COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 



this has been the desire to present a method which, although efficient, 
would involve the minimum abuse of the horse. From the standards 
thus reached, which may be summed up as those of EASY, CALM, 
GRACEFUL and COMPETENT JUMPING, the mechanics of the 
horse's jump as they are presented in this chapter seem to me to be 
the soundest. 




CHAPTER XI 

Learning Control on the Intermediate Level 

(PREFACE, BY V. S. LITTAUER) 

Of the three chapters on the technique of controlling a horse this one 
is the most important. Elementary control, after all, should be primarily 
regarded as a passing stage in learning to ride, or as a substitute for good 
riding for people who for one reason or another are not interested or are 
unable to aim. at anything beyond a very primitive form of riding; on the 
other hand advanced control is for those comparatively few who wish to 
know more than is required merely for hunting and showing satisfac- 
torily. 

Intermediate control is especially conceived for riding to hounds and 
for showing (particularly showing hunters), and, as such, it should fit the 
need of the majority, for I know of no young boy or girl today who, while 
learning to ride, does not aspire eventually to participate in one or both 
of these games. 

It is obvious to anyone with hunting or showing experience that techni- 
cal books on riding usually contain a great deal of material which is 
superfluous for these two sports. These techniqualitles of riding are too 
often beyond the possibilities of an amateur who is not prepared to devote 
his life to horses. On the other hand, the actual riding in the two games 
mentioned above is frequently done on an unnecessarily low level; very 
few will argue this statement. So, in formulating the principles of inter- 
mediate control, I was aiming at raising the standards of present riding 
on the one hand and on the other at doing this in a manner simple enough 
so that its ideals would be within the reach of everyone. This is the funda- 
mental thought behind this chapter. 

Before beginning to set down recipes for the control of the horse on the 
intermediate level I had to consider the type of rider and horse to whom 
these would most frequently apply. In my mind this typical rider is a girl 
in her teens or early twenties who owns a hunter or a jumper, or 
has a regular opportunity to hunt or show someone else's horse (but it is 
to be hoped, of course that everyone who is a beginner today will have 
use for this chapter eventually). This girl Is usually very fit physically, 
brave, loves horses and riding, had her first experience In the saddle as 
a child, has taken some lessons (as a rule not consistently) perhaps in a 
camp or, later, in a school, does not know much, but her character and 
experience take care of her riding. It is needless to say that this description 

169 



170 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

also fits many women, men and boys. Many of these who would like to 
ride better, or to improve the performance of their horses, somehow don't 
know how to go about it, or are ashamed to concede publicly that they 
have something to learn; it is for them that this chapter is written. 

The position of this type of rider is usually strong and has a great deal 
of acrobatic quality. Hence, if necessary, to change it for the better (they 
are apt to be behind their horses), it requires merely a couple of hours, 
and is not a serious matter. The matter of their control, however, is much 
more complicated, for efficient and soft control can be present only pro- 
viding the horse has had at least some schooling, and these people usually 
ride green horses. They are therefore forced to ride roughly and conse- 
quently disturbingly to the horse; which results in a vicious circle. Some 
of these almost self-made riders, being born with equestrian tact, eventu- 
ally learn how to handle their unschooled horses with a primitive but 
effective smoothness, but the majority, of course, remain forever an unwel- 
come sight to their mounts. Some horses can take it, but many eventually 
become upset and begin to perform badly. At this late date the owner of 
such a horse either buys a new one or decides that something has to be 
done to reform his present one. The really wise riders begin to worry 
about their own riding. In most cases what such riders need is not so much 
an improvement in technique of their aids as a better understanding of 
what riding is all about. They have to learn that a good performance 
largely depends on schooling. 

There is so little that is black and white in riding that even such an 
obvious, common-sense statement as that a horse to perform well should 
be at least somewhat schooled, and at least decently ridden, cannot be 
taken as gospel. Just yesterday I saw a six-year-old horse which, with no 
schooling at all and badly ridden, was performing well over fences. His 
owner and rider had raised him, hunted him, shown him successfully in 
hunter classes and nothing has upset the horse; he performs quietly, on 
loose reins and doesn't object to being handled roughly when given orders. 
This horse is a perfect illustration of what I said previously in this book 
that it is possible for some people on some horses to hunt and even to 
show on the basis of elementary control. Of course, one may look at this 
case from another angle from the sophisticated point of view of the 
knowing rider. Then the mere fact that the horse jumps 4' fences willingly 
and calmly, on loose reins, is not enough. Yesterday when looking at the 
free, quiet gaits of this horse, I didn't like them; they were disconnected 
gaits. I knew that they would be rough, crude and unpleasant to me. As 
to the jump, I was saying to myself when watching the horse go over 
fences, "give me this horse and I will raise his jumping limit by 6" in a 
few weeks/' But, on the other hand, I was thinking that this horse ought 
to be happy, because his uneducated rider controls him in this simple 
unpretentious manner. What a torture it would be to him i his rider 
were to acquire all sorts of fanciful ideas and were to attempt to collect 



LEARNING CONTROL ON THE INTERMEDIATE LEVEL 171 

him and what not, not knowing exactly how. There are many ways of 
looking at a thing. 

I have already mentioned that when organizing the technique of Inter- 
mediate control I took Into consideration not only riders but their horses 
as well. A great many of today's hunters and the majority of horse-show 
jumpers are big, strong horses and, as such, are often ambitious. There 
Is no objection to ambition but, as It happens, It easily becomes overambi- 
tlon and then sheer nervousness. Unfortunately we do not breed horses 
for character any more. Our best horse is the thoroughbred and he is 
rarely bred purposely for a gentleman's use. He Is Intended for the race 
track where overeagerness may be desirable and Is bred primarily for 
inherited ability to run fast, as well as for certain physical qualities which 
Insure speed. The result is that the horse-flesh of today is truly magnificent. 
But a quiet, naturally cooperative character has been completely neglected 
for many generations of horses* As an example of a wonderful disposition 
having been developed In a horse through selective breeding I would like 
to mention the Lipizzans. In the carousel of the Spanish School of Vienna 
you can see eight stallions working together with exemplary docility, 
while in the stalls they show the friendliness and intelligence of a dog 
rather than of even a pet horse as we know it. It is far beyond the results 
usually obtained through friendly grooming and good riding. 

Whether you wish to shed tears or not over the fact that so many of our 
thoroughbreds don't possess this quality, the cold fact remains that they 
don't. On the other hand, the average well-bred horse of today, although 
born with a sensitive nature is born a quiet animal. It is the senseless 
behavior of his rider which so often turns him into a nervous one. If 
horse owners and riders would just appreciate the fact that when a colt, 
at the age of three, the horse is overimpressionable and should be handled 
very tactfully for a year or two, only a negligible number of our horses 
would be maladjusted. This tactful handling merely means that you 
ask at first very little from a green horse and gradually raise your require- 
ments. You would be wise always to be guided by the golden rule that the 
less one asks from a horse the calmer he remains. Schooling, and schooling 
only, will enable you to raise your requirements to a high degree without 
upsetting the horse. And don't let yourself be misguided by the behavior 
of the exceptions to the rule. 

Now that we have approximately defined the horse and the rider for 
whom this chapter and, as a matter of fact, most of this book Is written, I 
would like to turn your attention to the essential points in riding to 
hounds and in show jumping. First of all, when hunting the horse must 
gallop "economically," that Is, using as little energy as possible so as to 
stay with hounds even in a long run, and when showing, be as fresh ap- 
proaching the last fence in the show as when taking the first one. In the 
hunting field efficiency of movement is particularly important at the long 
gallop; during the short course of the show the horse can exhaust himself 



172 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

only due to wrong jumping efforts over formidable obstacles. Since the 
gallop and the jump are closely related movements, and the character of 
the jump largely depends on the type of the gallop during the approach, 
ease in each of them is fundamentally based on the same factors. The most 
important of these is approaching a fence, or merely galloping, with aver- 
age forward balance, with neck stretched (which results in long, flat 
strides) and in the efficient use of energy in covering ground. But in 
neither of these two sports can this be successfully achieved merely through 
having the reins loose, for quite often in the hunting field, and always in 
the horse shows, precision of control is necessary and riding on soft contact 
becomes imperative. 

Soft contact is obviously possible only when the horse is calm. In the 
usual case a calm horse is the result of schooling plus sensible riding. A 
sluggish horse will remain quiet, no matter how green he is when he is 
required to hunt, or how abominably he is ridden; but a sensitive horse 
will not stand either. The habit of moving with forward balance is condu- 
cive to calmness, for this is the natural attitude of a free, calm horse, while a 
collected attitude is natural for an emotionally upset one. Once the horse 
has acquired in schooling the habit of moving under the rider at all gaits 
and over fences in the same manner in which he would do it when free 
and calm, then you have efficient gaits and jumping, and it will be easy 
for you (using the legs) to establish a soft contact. When this has been 
achieved the horse is ready to learn to respond to soft aids, and precision 
of control becomes possible. 

At times, of course, any horse even a well-schooled one will resist, 
and then softness will have to be temporarily abandoned until mental 
cooperation is restored. Softness is impossible without the mental coopera- 
tion of the horse. If you were to analyze such an apparently purely physi- 
cal characteristic of the horse as a "good mouth," you would find that a 
considerable part of it is mental cooperation. 

Assuming that a certain horse has been schooled to the point where he 
is capable of performing on the intermediate level, we are left with the 
question what should the rider know in order to obtain such perform- 
ance from this horse? Here is the answer: 

1) The rider must be familiar with the technique of the use of legs and 
hands which obtains different movements on this level of performance. 

2) The rider must understand the general spirit of riding on the inter- 
mediate level. 

Now let us examine these points in greater detail: 

Riding on soft contact. Soft contact is obtained by the legs urging the 
horse forward on the bit; not by pulling on the reins. Responding to the 
action of the rider's legs the horse slightly increases the energy of his 
movement, stretches his neck, and thus establishes contact between his 
mouth and the rider's hands; this is providing, of course, that the length 
of the reins is correctly adjusted. In this case moving on the bit is some- 



LEARNING CONTROL OX THE INTERMEDIATE LEVEL 173 

what less pronounced than the "fully on the bit'* of advanced riding. Be- 
ing less pronounced, it is much easier to achieve with softness, and this 
is why it can be the basis of intermediate control. On the other hand, it 
is much more complicated than riding on loose reins, due particularly to 
two technical details of riding on soft contact. These are "following arms" 
and "give and take." 

Following arms. Once contact has been established then, in order not 
to abuse the horse's mouth, the rider's arms must follow the balancing 
gestures of the horse's neck and head at the walk and canter where these 
gestures are present. To be able to "follow," the rider must have his arms 
relaxed in the shoulders and elbows and make movements with his arms 
(from the shoulders) back and forth following the movements of the 
horse's neck and preserving a soft contact with the mouth. This sounds 
simple, but it isn't and an elementary rider cannot be asked to execute 
it. If the rider doesn't follow and his reins are taut he hangs on the 
horse's mouth, and if his reins are semi-slack the horse jerks himself 
against the bit every time that his head makes a gesture forward and down. 
Incredible as it may seem, the latter case is common even among riders 
with considerable reputation. 

Give and take. It is easy to say that the contact with the following arms 
must be soft, but even when the rider plays his part well the horse may not 
play his and may begin to lean on the rider's hands, usually increasing 
his pace. What do you do then? That is where "give and take" comes in. 
Every increase of the tension on the reins slows the horse down somewhat 
(unless the horse's mouth is spoiled, or he is not in the mood to cooperate), 
and every decrease of tension displaces the bit in his mouth, thus prevent- 
ing the mouth from becoming numb. An ordinary long, heavy pull on the 
reins to slow down a horse (without give) will result in the horse's mouth 
gradually losing its sensitivity and the horse feeling the rider's hands less 
and less. / 

A crude form of give and take can be obtained by moving the arms 
back and forth; a finer one by moving the wrists up and down, and the 
best one (on a sensitive horse) by opening and closing fingers. 

Besides stopping the horse from leaning on your hands at gaits or dur- 
ing different movements, a certain amount of give and take should always 
be present to prevent the horse from developing this leaning. In other 
words, a soft contact is the one which is not stiff and has play in it. 

Sometimes give and take is not sufficient to keep the horse's mouth soft 
and either "vibrations" or "flexions" have to be introduced. 

Vibrations consist in moving the snaffle to the left and the right through 
the mouth by a sawing action on the reins. Granting that in some cases 
a strong "sawing" of the mouth may be necessary, the ideal vibration is 
executed by merely alternating closing the fingers of one hand while 
relaxing the fingers of the other. 

Flexions are described in the chapter on ADVANCED CONTROL for 



174 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

they really belong to riding on that level, but occasionally they have to be 
used even In simpler riding for instance, in the case of a horse with a 
stiff poll. Different levels of control sometimes cannot be rigidly separated. 

Riding on loose reins. About one-third of riding should be done on 
loose reins, not only at a walk but at all gaits and in jumping. This rests 
the horse's mouth and contributes to soft contact and soft control. When 
reading the chapters on schooling you will find out that it is very easy 
to stabilize the horse at his gaits so that he, by himself, maintains the gait 
and evenness of speed. Stabilization is the cornerstone of soft control. 

Calmness. Obviously, the rider can be soft with his hands while main- 
taining contact and controlling the horse only if the horse remains calm 
and cooperative, and this depends largely on the character and mentality 
of the horse and is really developed in schooling and then maintained 
through sensible riding. 

It can hardly be argued that a horse performs at his best when alert and 
calm. Efficiency being the basic principle of intermediate riding, calmness 
assumes great importance, not only from the point of view of softness of 
control but as a foundation for the economical use of energy as well. 

A beginner may disturb a sensitive horse by the awkwardness of his posi- 
tion or by the roughness of his aids, but I would like to assume that those 
who are going to use this chapter for reference are beyond this stage. 
However, even a rider with a non-disturbing seat and non-disturbing legs 
and hands can, over a period of weeks, turn a naturally quiet horse into 
a nervous wreck. How? By not using common sense. By asking more of 
the horse than he can do with ease and forcing him into doing it. For 
instance, if I have a horse which is apprehensive of 3'6" fences and, instead 
of gradually schooling him to greater heights, I force him today to jump 
4f obstacles I will have an upset horse in no time. But you can make a 
horse jittery even without jumping. A sensitive, green horse would soon 
become nervous if I were to ride him at a walk one moment, then suddenly 
put him into a full gallop, then as suddenly halt him, then gallop again, 
all abruptly and roughly. 

In advanced schooling, when the point is reached where the horse easily 
changes from ordinary to semi-collected gaits, abrupt stops and transitions 
can be asked of him without upsetting him. Intermediate riding does not 
include semi-collection; hence to maintain calmness in the horse with a 
less athletically developed body, transitions must be gradual. Let me re- 
peat here that if you gallop and wish to halt, you should first make a few 
strides of trot, then of a walk and only after this preparation come to a 
halt. In order to start a full gallop from a halt you should first walk a 
few steps, then trot for several strides, then begin a canter and gradually 
increase your speed to a full gallop. Abiding by these rules will largely 
contribute to the calmness of your horse. 

Even rapid changes in the speed of the same gait are upsetting to the 
horse. Whenever it Is practical an even speed should be maintained. I 



LEARNING CONTROL ON THE INTERMEDIATE LEVEL 175 

don't mean to say that it must be slow not at all any speed, whenever 
practical should be kept even, so that the horse has a chance to settle into 
it. I appreciate the fact that sometimes in hunting, particularly in wooded 
country, this is impossible, but many other times it is not. 

So, all in all, a successful performance on the intermediate level depends 
at least on some schooling and very much on the calm, sensible behavior 
of the rider. The more schooling the horse has received, the more and 
higher the fences you can take and the more abrupt can be your- changes 
of gaits and speeds without upsetting the horse. 

The use of voice. The horse easily learns the meanings of different 
intonations of the human voice; this is why the voice is so liberally used 
in schooling. There is no reason whatsoever why a soothing voice should 
not be used in cross-country riding to calm the horse, or sharp words to 
stop a disobedience. Some riders, however, would prefer to use a gag-bit 
than to use the voice. This inhibition about speaking to the horse springs 
from many sources, among which the traditions of the formal riding of 
the last century (such as carousels and military parades) are probably the 
most influential. As long as advanced forms of riding aim to exhibit horses 
schooled to such a high degree that the application of all aids is supposed 
to be inconspicuous, the rule against the use of the whip, voice and other 
auxiliary aids still holds its rightful place in Dressage; in the Olympic 
Games in 1932 a Swedish officer was disqualified for clucking to his horse. 
But there is no reason whatsoever for objecting to the use of the voice in less 
artistic or formal types of riding, where efficiency, rather than a ballet on 
horseback is the aim. 

And speaking of aids, it is customary to refer to the rider's legs and 
hands as "natural" aids, and to the spurs, whip, etc. as "artificial" ones. 
While this may make sense from the human point of view it certainly 
doesn't from the horse's. For to him the artificiality of riding begins with 
someone being on his back. Consequently, the natural impulse of any un- 
trained horse is to object to the rider being in the saddle and to resist the 
actions of his legs and hands. In resisting the leg the horse often moves 
against it; in resisting the bit he tries to get away from it. As a matter of 
fact, teaching flexion of the mouth consists of showing the horse a route 
of escape (advantageous to the rider) from increased pressure on the bit. 
So bear in mind that all the signals described below will make sense to the 
horse and will therefore work only after he has been taught their meaning 
this is one of the purposes of schooling. 

I have taken particular pains to present the above fundamentals of 
intermediate riding as simply as I know how, and still I know that a num- 
ber of riders from the group which I described at the beginning of this 
chapter will fail to appreciate them. This is not because they are mentally 
incapable, but because they would like to discard it all as sheer theoretical 
nonsense which hasn't anything to do with riding to hounds or jumping 



176 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

in a show. They will do so because riding is to them something very differ- 
ent from what it is to me. To them foxhunting or showing is a romantic 
adventure in which they assert themselves as daring individuals at the top 
of the social structure. This snobbishly egotistical approach naturally re- 
sults in their glorying in their personal accomplishments the horse is 
a mere instrument to this end. To them, the fact that they have stayed 
with hounds throughout the hunt on a pulling, bucking horse bolsters 
their ego and provides innumerable stories with which to impress their 
friends. Their psychology is part of a certain character and their riding 
is merely one of the manifestations of it. There is no way of changing 
them. Good riding as I understand it and as I present it in this book is 
just not in their nature. This type is familiar to every riding teacher and 
provides standard shop talk. The average teacher is acquainted with these 
people because some of them do take lessons, but they take lessons almost 
in position only primarily to better their appearance, to acquire a more 
secure seat and sometimes to learn the knack of not letting a misbehaving 
horse get completely out of hand. Any attempts at teaching them more 
faO. Some young inexperienced and optimistic teachers make an effort 
to convert them; the wise ones leave them alone. I believe in the latter 
course. Our country at present is full of young people who by their char- 
acter and mentality present a fertile source for the right kind of material. 
This source is now so great that I believe what we need now more than 
ever is more better teachers and more good sound propaganda. 

After these little digressions I would now like to return to the main 
theme of the chapter and let my pupil Alexis Wrangel take over and 
describe in detail the technical part of intermediate control. He is at the 
present time learning it and hence will be able to tell you not merely 
what should be done in different instances but to give you fresh impres- 
sions of the reactions of a student; this may be very helpful to you. 

THIS PART OF CHAPTER XI Is BY ALEXIS WRANGEL 
Capt. Littauer's instructions in roman. My own reactions in italic. 
Control in my previous riding experience had consisted in steering my 
horse and getting him to obey elementary requirements without unduly 
exciting him. I knew that the horse performed better when its head and 
neck were stretched forward and free,, also that my equine partner usually 
cooperated willingly when not jerked in the mouth or disturbed by -violent 
leg action. That summed up my knowledge. It was only when I started 
to study with Captain Littauer that I began to learn a whole gamut of 
hand and leg signals and their effect on the horse's movements. These 
signals were based on the horse's physique and mentality, and permitted 
the maximum efficiency in managing the horse. 

Control was made easier by a good position of the rider, but, good posi- 
tion did not necessarily mean good riding. For example, one sees photo- 
graphs of bad riders looking very well over the apex of a jump, even 



LEARNING CONTROL ON THE INTERMEDIATE LEVEL 177 

though their riding up to and beyond the jump is consistently bad. Fur- 
thermore, I have met other riders whose position was always correct even 
though they rode very badly, disturbing their horse by continuous bad 
control. On the other hand, one occasionally sees riders, who, sitting in- 
correctly, get a surprisingly good performance out of their horses. 

Obviously, the seat is far from being the complete answer to a good per- 
formance, (as I learned in the course of my studies) but, other elements 
being equal, a good seat is one of the fundamental steps toward a perfect 
performance. 

Again, as in the chapter on position, I intend to detail Captain Littauefs 
instructions as I received them, and follow them by a description of my 
own reactions and of the difficulties I experienced. I must point out, how- 
ever, that control cannot be taught only by a series of short recipes of a 
mechanical nature such as govern teaching a correct position. The sub- 
ject of control is much more complicated than the mechanics of the seat; 
it depends on the rider's instinct and mentality as well as on the emotional 
and physical state of the horse. It is, after all, not too hard to accustom any 
part of your body to maintain a certain position and while a knack for 
achieving it quickly is helpful, practice under a good supervisor eventu- 
ally takes care of everything. 

Control is a very different proposition; it deals with such complicated 
subjects as the horse's mentality, his nervous system, and the mechanics 
of his movements. The action of the rider's hands and legs do follow cer- 
tain prescribed formulae, but the pattern of these formulae changes con- 
stantly, and you really cannot tie yourself down to a hard and fast rule 
as in the case of position. 

Equestrian tact governs the application of the recipes prescribed in the 
manual. Certain general directions were given by Captain Littauer in the 
course of my studies, but their execution depended finally on my ability 
to get together with the horse. Only experience through practice rendered 
this possible. This experience could not be developed really efficiently 
through hacking and jumping only, but rather in practicing various move- 
ments in the ring: stopping and backing; two tracks; turns on the fore- 
hand and the haunches, etc. Different exercises which required different 
combinations of legs and hands, sometimes in cooperation with the 
horse's efforts and sometimes in combatting his resistances, gradually im- 
proved my control. 

The more I rode, the more I learned the necessity of trying to out-think 
and, if possible, out-guess the horse. At first, I did not "give a hoot" what 
the horse had in his mind / was more interested in the position of my 
ankles and the hollow in my back. Correct position seemed the A and Z 
of riding. But, by and by, I learned to pay more attention to the horse 
his state of mind and his actions. Of course I did realize that unless I had 
a correct position the chances were that I would disturb the horse the 
minute a change of balance occurred. Many times, when I first sat on a 



178 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

strange horse, I felt awfully uncomfortable sometimes it was the horse's 
conformation, at other times an ill-fitting saddle, or sometimes I just had 
a bad day and felt "off the beam," regardless of what I did, billiards or 
riding. I came to realize that until I got ?nyself united with the horse, by 
achieving a reasonable degree of comfort, 1 was much better just keeping 
the horse going quietly on a loose rein at a walk, than attempting to do 
anything else. In the long run this course of action paid handsome divi- 
dends. 

On other days, and with other horses, I felt fine when getting aboard, 
comfortable and well in balance, but the horse might not have been out 
for a long time, and was ready to blow up. Until I learned to wait for the 
horse to assume a relaxed, natural position, all efforts to achieve correct 
control failed. 

I gained much by trying to put myself mentally in the horse's shoes: if 
someone were to try to coerce me in any way, at five o'clock, when I get out 
into the fresh air from closed confinement in a stuffy and boring office, he 
would meet with a great deal of resentment. Why then, I learned to rea- 
son, should I demand immediate and perfect obedience from a horse, after 
he has come out into a field, following a few days of standing in a stall? 

As senseless actions on the rider's part disturb the horse, make him as- 
sume undesirable attitudes and spoil his gaits, so the rider's sensible be- 
havior induces that desirable, free-moving and relaxed attitude which is 
our goal in intermediate riding. 

A quiet seat in balance with the horse's movements, plus correctly used, 
undisturbing legs and hands, will induce the horse to move in his natural, 
relaxed fashion. 

We have analyzed the seat in Chapter VI; let us examine the action of 
the rider's controlling agents: the legs and hands- 

The legs: Must at all times be close to the horse, the upper calf main- 
taining a light contact with the saddle skirts. This frictional grip is part 
of the rider's position. For control purposes, that portion of the leg from 
the upper calf down (sometimes down to the heel) is brought into play. 
The action of the legs depends on the amount of resistance offered by the 
horse: a light squeeze of the calves is the ideal, under normal circum- 
stances; however, i stronger action is called for then, instead of squeez- 
ing, the rider taps the horse's flanks with his calves; this failing, he may 
resort to exerting pressure with his spurs against the horse's flanks, just 
behind the girth, and, when that produces no effect, he will give jabs with 
his spur-equipped heels. In order to spur correctly, the foot must be 
turned outward, so as to have the knee act as a hinge the lower leg 
swinging back and inward in a series of quick short jabs against the 
horse's sides. The inturned toe or a foot parallel to the horse's side will 
spoil the natural action of the leg, whether spur or leg is used. 

It is assumed, at this stage, that the intermediate rider knows the use 
of the spurs, and that he is master of his own legs. 



LEARNING CONTROL ON THE INTERMEDIATE LEVEL 179 

There are, however, certain horses which, not accustomed to the use of 
spurs, will react violently at the slightest touch. In such cases, It is im- 
perative to teach the horse, gradually, the feel and meaning of the spurs, 
Try using them most discreetly: first accustoming the horse to only a slight 
pressure of the spur, and subsequently to light taps. It should not take 
long to accustom any horse to spurs, if patience and tact govern the rider. 

Spurs should always be blunt, preferably with short shanks, and they 
should be used as little as practical. 

/ recently had the opportunity to school a horse with a rather difficult 
character, under Captain Littauefs guidance. In the course of our pre- 
liminary work, we noticed that the horse was disturbed by even the slight- 
est pressure of the spurs. When I took my spurs off, the horse relaxed and 
for several weeks I worked him without them. However, as we advanced 
in the curriculum, certain problems came up when stronger aids than just 
legs and heels were required. 

By then the horse was much calmer and more amenable, so we decided 
to accustom him to spurs. This was done in the following way: while 
standing quietly in the ring, with the horse on loose reins, I gradu- 
ally brought the spurs to touch his sides gently; the instant he moved 
forward I patted him. That day, I did nothing more than that exercise, 
repeated many times and, on each successful response, rewarded the horse. 
The following day, I worked on transitions from the walk to the trot, in 
the same manner; and a day later my horse obeyed the spurs, as calmly as 
it had previously answered to the pressure of my calf and spurless heel 
Had we decided to have it out with the horse the first day, and forced 
him to obey the spurs, the problem would probably have lasted for 
months; as it was, two or three days were enough, and without mental or 
physical strain for either of the parties involved. 

As regards the use of the legs, it should always be governed by that 
Intangible quality called equestrian tact; neither the exact split second 
when the rider's legs come into play, nor the exact amount of intensity 
with which they act, can be precisely described; the rider's instinct, forti- 
fied by experience, takes care of that. However, the factors which favor 
the correct use of the legs can be described as follows: 

1) Correct timing with the horse's efforts or resistance. 

2) Correct strength. 

3) Correct cooperation with the action of the rider's hands. 

The person endowed with natural ability will develop these through 
years of riding experience (hacking or hunting), or through a few months 
or even weeks of correct exercises in the ring, under the guidance of a 
competent instructor. 

The conformation of both horse and rider will facilitate or impede the 
leg action. A long-legged rider, on a small-barrelled horse, in order to use 
his spurs or heels, must raise his heels; this is, of course, detrimental to 
his general position. On the other hand, a short-legged rider, on a big- 



180 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

barrelled horse, has his legs virtually paralyzed, as his capacity to straddle 
is stretched to the limit and, his lower leg, high up on the horse's side, is 
pressed permanently against the horse's flank. 

Regarding the varying amount of intensity required in the use of the 
rider's legs, I think I shall be rendering the reader a service by relating an 
incident in my riding experience: 

Through force of circumstances, 1 had ridden constantly for three years 
dull, common horses, some of them very spoiled by bad riding. The action 
of my legs, therefore, was elementary and my whole equestrian feeling 
dulled. One day, Captain Littauer asked me to ride his horse Barnaby 
Bright, This creature is an Irish hunter of mammoth proportions: seven- 
teen hands, with an enormous barrel. This giant structure, moreover, is 
endowed with an extremely sensitive nature, and much developed by very 
fine schooling. Mounting, I felt most uncomfortable; I was not in balance, 
and could not get my legs to contact the horse's sides. When I finally 
brought my legs into play, in what I thought was a gentle squeeze of the 
upper calves, the horse nearly jumped out of his skin. From then on, every- 
thing I did seemed to go wrong and, an hour later, when I descended from 
this towering, but very much animated monument, I was extremely dis- 
gusted with myself. 

It took hours of riding before I got the hang of Barnaby. / found that 
the faintest pressure of my leg was enough for most commands. This, by 
the way, was a case when spurs were obviously unnecessary. 

I realized that experience and common sense govern the rider's leg 
action; without them, no amount of advice can be effective. 

Hands. Control at an intermediate level is based on being able to ride 
with a light contact between the horse's mouth and the rider's hands. This 
contact at times is steady but, even then, light enough to alter in no way 
the position of the horse's head or neck nor to impede in any way the for- 
ward, impulsion of the horse, except when actually wilfully restraining 
him. 

It is sometimes said that the ideal contact should merely equal the 
weight of the reins; in practice this is an unattainable ideal, but a goal 
that one should always be striving toward. 

There are some horses who, of themselves, like to take a franker hold 
of the bit, without actually pulling or being over the bit; others, of a 
passive nature, prefer to lag behind. 

During the walk and the canter, the horse's head and neck sway con- 
siderably up and back and down and forward. Only at the trot are the 
neck and head stable. In order to have the feel of the horse's mouth, the 
rider must keep the reins lightly stretched, and follow the horse's mouth 
with his arms, synchronizing their motion with the gestures of the horse's 
head and neck. 

When taught position, the rider is reminded to keep his hands well 
apart, the left on the left side of the horse's neck, the right on the right 



LEARNING CONTROL ON THE INTERMEDIATE LEVEL 181 

side; then, and then only, can the rider's arms move back and forth in 
piston-like motion, following those balancing gestures of the horse's head 
and neck as mentioned in Chapter VI and illustrated in Picture 33. 

The pivots of the piston-acting arms are the rider's shoulders and el- 
bows; it is of the utmost importance that these be relaxed hence the 
value of correct position (rider firm in balance and relaxed). There 
should be a straight line of action from the rider's elbow to the horse's 
mouth; the wrists, though relaxed, must not be bent, as this would break 
the direct line of action. 

A "praying mantis" attitude on the part of the rider's arms is strongly 
to be discouraged. 

At first I found that I was hesitant in taking up the slack in the reins, 
fearing that I might disturb the horse; the result was that I rode on a half 
slack rein, under the impression that it was contact. This produced merely 
a succession of small jerks on the horse's mouth. At the trot, where the 
horse's head and neck are relatively stable, this did not matter, but at the 
canter and walk it became apparent as the horse raised its head and neck 
and felt obviously uncomfortable. 

Since I learned this, I have noticed that many reputedly good riders are 
constantly committing the same error. The nearest way that I can repro'- 
duce, in words, my feeling of a soft, steady contact, is by calling the 
reader's attention to fishing (and who has not gone fishing at one time or 
another in his life); when you have cast your line, fishing without a rod, 
and the slow current of a lazy river has taken up the slack, an ever so 
light but permanent tension is felt in your hand. This I found to resemble 
very much the feel of a light contact when riding. In order to follow with 
my arms the motion of the horse's head and neck, I found that when I re- 
laxed my shoulders, elbows and wrists the mere feeling of keeping the 
slack out of the reins at all times automatically made my arms follow 
through without any difficulty. 

All intermediate rein control is based on "give and take/' 

The hands check or act in some other way on either one or both reins 
until the horse starts to execute the command and, the instant the 
horse obeys, the hand or hands relax to their original contact or even to 
slack reins. At no time, except for a fight, is the horse's head or neck raised, 
nor its balance intentionally disturbed. When the contact gets too heavy, 
due to the horse's beginning to pull, lighten the contact by a series of 
give and take actions; when, on the other hand, the horse does not move 
forward to take the contact push with your legs. Never try to establish 
contact by merely tightening the reins. The contact between the horse's 
mouth and the hands is established by the rider's legs. 

"Give and take" may be accomplished by moving the rider's arms back 
and forth, in the piston-like action described in Chapter VI, or by the 
movement of the rider's wrists, or again by the mere opening and closing 
of the rider's fingers. The intensity with which give and take is applied 



182 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

depends on the reactions o the horse. It varies from a light fixing of the 
hands, when halting a well-schooled and responsive horse, to sawing on 
the mouth of a runaway or a jerk in the mouth, intended as a punish- 
ment for misbehavior. The "playing off** with one rein, to straighten the 
horse's head, is also subject to the law of give and take, and so is any 
action of the rider's hands designed to produce an effect on the horse's 
actions. 

/ found that, with practice, very little action of the hands was sufficient 
to obtain the beginning of a desired movement, and that a succession of 
checks and release movements, all done in a relaxed and not a brisk 
manner, was enough in all but extreme cases. The more experience 1 
acquired, the easier and more automatically these give and take move- 
ments came, until they became instinctive. 

Intermediate control aims at a soft, precise, efficient performance. The 
formulae listed below are applied in obtaining the required movements. 
Good results are derived from the precise and tactful execution of these 
formulae. The following method of control will work well only on cor- 
respondingly schooled horses. It is also meant for schooling horses on an 
intermediate level. All the movements listed below should be obtained 
with the indicated precision in schooling and in competitions where a 
good performance counts. Whereas one cannot expect such precision 
when hunting or riding cross-country, a horse schooled to precise per- 
formance will obey more readily and be pleasanter to ride in the hunting 
field or anywhere else. 

Walk from Halt. Have the reins loose; urge with the legs until the 
horse moves forward. Establish contact as soon as you can and begin to 
follow with your arms the gestures of the horse's head and neck. 

To increase the speed of the walk, use your legs alternately in rhythm 
with the horse's stride, i.e., as the left lateral moves forward, urge with 
your right leg (in anticipation of the right lateral's advance); as the right 
advances use your left leg. 

Using the legs in this seesawing fashion and in rhythm required a 
certain knack; I found it easier to learn by watching the horse's shoulders: 
as the left shoulder moved forward, I applied my right leg, and vice versa. 

Trot from Walk. Relax your hands, loosen the reins, urge with the legs 
until the horse breaks into a trot, then establish contact. The swaying 
motion of the horse's head and neck at the walk ceases at the trot. Con- 
sequently, the rider's following-arms motion also stops; however, the 
hands must remain relaxed, ready to follow any unexpected motion of 
the horse's head and neck, such as, for instance, when the horse stumbles. 

/ found that some horses started their trot with a plunging action of the 
head, and if my hands were not quick enough to move forward and give 
sufficient freedom, a jerk in the horse's mouth resulted. 

Other horses that I had occasion to ride had learned from bitter expert- 



LEARNING CONTROL ON THE INTERMEDIATE LEVEL 183 

ence that bad riders would always be left behind at the start of a trot, 
and would haul themselves back into position by means of the reins. These 
unfortunate animals started their trot by throwing their heads up in a 
pathetic effort to avoid undeserved punishment. In such cases I found it 
helpful to push the horse onto the bit while still at the walk, and maintain 
the contact as I broke into the trot, sitting the first few strides. 

The correct speed of the ordinary trot is about 8 miles an hour. It Is 
important to maintain an even pace and not to permit the horse to go 
into a fast trot, except when doing it as an exercise, and then for short 
periods only. 

To increase the trot. Squeeze with your legs on the downward beat of 
the posting trot, as your body returns to the saddle relax your legs on 
the upward beat as you rise in the stirrups then squeeze again as you 
come down and so on ... keep your action well in rhythm. 

If, for some reason, you wish to bring into play a more intense action 
of the legs, stop posting and sit, then the action of the legs is no longer 
intermittent and may be constant. 

Canter from trot, disregarding the Lead. Increase the leg action and 
check momentarily with your hands to prevent the horse from increasing 
the trot, without, however, raising his head and neck; keep on urging 
until the horse breaks into a canter; the instant he does, start following 
his mouth with your arms, because the head and neck will be making 
balancing gestures. Keep the horse's neck and head straight and do not be 
disturbed if he ranges his haunches slightly to the side of the lead. This 
is a natural cantering attitude for many horses (exception: fast gallop); 
but this ranging must be very slight; do not allow your horse to gallop 
sideways. 

A smooth transition from the trot to the gallop without interruption of 
contact is not an easy matter. The brief but soft checking movement of 
the hands has to synchronize with the push of the rider's legs. On a well- 
schooled horse, the action of the hands boils down to a very small increase 
of resistance on the reins. It is of utmost importance to maintain, at this 
point, a correct seat; hunching or leaning the body in any direction only 
disturbs the horse. Stop posting while preparing for a canter departure. 

The instruction to check the horse while pushing with the legs is of 
paramount importance. In my case 1 know that I did not do it at first 
sufficiently, with the result that my horse started the gallop by rushing 
into it from a fast trot, rather than swinging into the gallop, following a 
correct simultaneous application of hands and legs. 

Canter from trot on desired lead. In order to make the horse take the 
left lead, apply the right leg somewhat behind the girth this ranges the 
horse's haunches to the left. The left leg keeps steady at the girth and 
maintains forward impulsion. Turn the horse's head slightly to the left 
by a direct action of the left rein. On most horses, use the direct rein; 
however, some may react better if you move both your hands to the right, 



184 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

thereby getting the left rein to act as an Indirect rein of opposition, and 
the right as a mild leading rein; the horse's head Is then turned to the left, 
while the horse's forehand is maintained on the trade. After the horse has 
assumed the correct attitude, the final signal to go into the gallop conies 
from the rider's right leg; on a schooled horse, mere pressure will be 
sufficient. 

To obtain the right lead, reverse the action of the legs and turn the 
horse's head slightly to the right. 

/ found it at first easier to begin my gallop in the corner of the ring. 
The horse's inside legs have then less ground to cover than the outside 
legs; the horse has, therefore, more freedom on the inside, and the 
correct lead is then the easier to take. 

To maintain the canter, urge rhythmically with the inside leg. (Canter- 
Ing on left lead, rider's left leg active; cantering on right, right leg.) In 
the case of lazy horses you may be forced to act with both legs simul- 
taneously. 

The slower the canter the more Imperative Is this particular use of one 
leg. For, at a slow canter there is always a chance that the legs on the 
leading side will become sluggish and will stop moving ahead of those on 
the other side. The moment the movement of the two sides is equalized 
the horse will break into a trot. 

At the gallop, urging with one particular leg is of no Importance. 

From the Canter to the Field Gallop. Urge the horse forward with both 
legs, encouraging him to lengthen his strides; the hands follow the horse's 
head as the motion of the head and neck become markedly pronounced. 
With the increase in speed, contact becomes progressively stronger and 
the rider shortens his reins as he rises in the stirrups and leans markedly 
forward. 

Decrease of Gaits. To decrease your gait from the field gallop to the 
canter, stop being active with the legs and fix your hands, and the IN- 
STANT your horse BEGINS to obey release . . . then fix again, and 
release again. A deliberate succession of such movements will bring the 
horse down to the canter, then to the trot, from the trot to the walk, and 
finally to the halt. The horse should come to a stop relaxed from stem to 
stern; his spine straight, head and neck in their relaxed, natural positions; 
the mouth should not open. 

On the intermediate level of riding, all action is progressive, i.e., from 
the halt to the walk, then to the trot, then to the canter, and finally to 
the gallop, with the decrease of gait also in successive order. Nothing is 
worse for the horse's muscular and nervous system than jack rabbit starts 
and dead stops from a fast gallop, when neither the rider nor the horse 
are educated to it. It takes advanced schooling and advanced riding to do 
it without damage. 

With ambitious, pulling horses, fixing the hands may not be enough, 
and a pull and release action is more effective. In that case, the rider's 



LEARNING CONTROL ON THE INTERMEDIATE LEVEL 185 

elbows are drawn back, his shoulders stiffened, his back braced, his chest 
out; he gives a long pull followed by a short release, another long pull, 
etc. until the horse slows down. If the horse has taken a strong hold of 
the bit, a seesaw action of the hands should pry the bit loose and bring 
the horse to reason. A yet more powerful method is the pulley rein, which 
consists in fixing one hand firmly on the horse's withers with the rein taut, 
while drawing the other rein strongly to the side up, and to the rear across 
the withers. 

Change of leads with interruption. Intermediate control does not call 
for a flying change of leads but merely for a change of leads with inter- 
ruption, that is, unless your horse Is particularly able to make this 
change without transitional steps of trot. This exercise is as important 
in developing skill in the horse as in developing cooperation of the rider's 
hands and legs. You can practice it during half-circles, half -circles In re- 
verse, and while changing direction diagonally across the arena. There are 
no special aids to discuss for the execution of this exercise, but there Is a 
certain technical routine to which you must adhere. 

Let us suppose that while galloping on the right lead you are approach- 
ing point A, where you wish to change to the left lead. Then, approxi- 
mately twenty feet away from A, you slow the horse into a trot, establish 
an even, quiet gait and then, at point A use the aids necessary for a canter 
departure on the left lead. With the improvement of the horse and your- 
self, reduce the period of the trot. 

I have found that on a very well schooled horse this was so easy to 
accomplish that it was hardly an exercise for my legs and hands. On an 
insufficiently schooled horse, however, it took me a long time to learn to 
do it satisfactorily. What usually happened was this: after two or three 
changes, the horse anticipating them end becoming overanxious about 
them, would stiffen, begin to pull, would be hard to keep straight, to bring 
to a relaxed trot and to have start the new canter without a plunge. This 
exercise on a half -schooled horse calls for a great deal of feeling and great 
dexterity of hands and legs, 

To back. First bring the horse to a halt, then gradually increase the 
tension on the reins (reins of direct opposition). The instant the horse 
begins to move backwards relax the tension on the reins, then repeat 
again. With experience, a pull will correspond to the beginning of the 
moving back of one of the horse's fore legs and the opposite hind leg; a 
slackening of the reins will correspond to the actual movement of the 
horse's diagonal. At no time should the horse raise his head or start 
backing sideways. The rider's hands and legs form a corridor down which 
the horse must move. If, for example, the horse attempts to emerge from 
that corridor by moving his haunches to the right, the rider's right rein 
and right leg (behind the girth) will compel him to return to the "straight 
and narrow path." If the horse's haunches move to the left, the rider's left 
aids come into play. If the horse throws his head up it means that the 
rider's hands are overactive. This will also be the case when the horse 
rolls backwards in a disjointed manner; when the latter occurs, the rider's 
legs must act at the girth and check the horse (reins slack). 



186 GOMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

/ didn't have any trouble learning correct aids in backing on schooled 
horses. The reason is simple: there is no cooperation of legs and hands if 
the horse obeys and backs slowly, regularly and straight; you merely use 
the hands alone. There is really no difficulty in using them softly at a slow 
movement when the action of the legs doesn't complicate the matter. 
Learning control at backing, however, to the point where one can teach 
the horse this movement, is another story. 

Turns with movement forward. The turn should be large enough to 
permit the horse to take it comfortably, without in any way losing the 
forward impulse of the gait at which he is moving. 

To turn to the left. When making a wide, sweeping turn use the left 
leading rein; on smaller turns or when checking the horse on a turn, use 
the rein of direct opposition the latter being a stronger rein effect. In 
both cases the rein should bring the horse's head into position where you 
can just see the horse's left eye. If it is necessary to maintain the gait 
while the horse turns to the left, use both legs at the girth. This is under 
ideal conditions. Now suppose the horse moves his haunches outward. 
Then your right leg moves back of the girth and acts to maintain them 
on the track. Or imagine that suddenly the horse moves his forehand in- 
ward, attempting to shorten the turn. Then move your hands to the 
right, preserving the bend of the horse's head. If he attempts to move out- 
ward, away from the turn, move both your hands to the left. Whatever 
formula you are applying, keep your horse moving forward, your legs 
active. Don't let him hang on your hands; if he does, lighten the con- 
tact with give-and-take. 

When making fast turns, such as when galloping over an outside 
course of jumps, use the leading rein, the rider's hand moving in rhythm, 
and leading the horse forward along the path of the turn. When taking 
a small inside course you will probably have to slow the horse on most 
turns and hence will need to use the rein of direct opposition, adding the 
checking effect of the outside rein to it. 

In regard to turning with movement forward, during my studies I met 
with two particular difficulties: 

a) If the horse had a rubber neck to the slightest extent I always found 
myself turning his head to the side much more than was required by the 
rules; the whole neck and head of the horse forming a sort of hook. It was 
difficult for me to learn how to remedy it with the legs and an occasional 
interference with the outside rein. 

b) Trying to make small circles on stiff horses normally resulted in 
their hindquarters skidding to the outside. Knowing that this fault can 
be corrected by schooling only, my problem in studying control was 
merely to estimate how small a circle a particular horse was capable of 
making easily. This feeling did not come at once. 

Turns used in learning intermediate control. Certain turns and com- 
binations of turns are used when working in the ring; they are excellent 



LEARNING CONTROL ON THE INTERMEDIATE LEVEL 187 

practice for horse and rider a good way of applying all the recipes used 
in intermediate control. These movements, which are also used in 
schooling horses, are the only efficient way to develop the coordination 
of the rider's hands and legs with the efforts o the horse. 






Pic 68 (top); Pic. 69 (bottom) 



Pic. 70 



Circle. (Picture 68) Moving along the wall at a chosen gait, circle 
when arriving at selected point A (size of circle depending on gait and the 
level of the horse's schooling), return to track at same point. 

Half-Circle. (Picture 69) Moving along the wall arrive at a chosen spot, 
A, and start circling; after completing a half-circle at point B, directly 



188 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

opposite A, head for the wall IN A STRAIGHT LINE; keep the horse 
moving forward and straight; arriving at wall take track in opposite 
direction to which you came. 

Half-Circle in reverse. (Picture 70) Moving along the wall, arrive at the 
chosen spot A; turn outward at 45 degrees to the wall and head IN A 
STRAIGHT LINE, keeping your horse moving forward and straight to 
any point, B, chosen conveniently far away from the wall to permit 
making half a circle; return to the track moving in an opposite direction 
from that in which you came. 

Serpentine. (Picture 71) The serpentine is a series of half-circles with a 
straight, short distance between them. Here is how to execute it. Taking 
the track along the wall of the ring you arrive at point A (lines AB and 
CD are the axii of your movement), and start a half-circle to the left, 
crossing the line AB. You take a straight line for a few strides, keeping 
your horse straight from nose to tail, then start a half-circle to the right, 
at the axis line CD head straight for a short distance, half-circle to the 
left and so on ... 

Zig-Zag. (Picture 72) Choosing a center line AB, you move along it; 
then turning at 45 degrees to it, you proceed in a straight line, until you 
are approximately & away from the axis of your movement; you then 
turn again at 45 degrees and crossing the axis in a straight movement, 
arrive at a spot 6' on the other side of the line AB, and so forth. As you 
see, the turns are sharper than when doing the serpentine. 

We repeated several times that the horse must be kept straight during 
a certain phase of the half-circle, half-circle in reverse, serpentine and 
zig-zag. This is done by urging the horse forward, with both the rider's 
legs acting in pushing the horse onto the contact, which is a mild form 
of having the horse on the bit. The rider's hands may come into play, in 
order to straighten the horse's forehand if he attempts to waddle sideways 
instead of striding energetically forward; or the rider may merely "play 
off" slightly with one rein to straighten the horse's head. 

Captain Littauer kept stressing the importance of these exercises as 
one of the efficient ways of learning cooperation of hands and legs; and 
indeed they are! Having hacked, hunted and jumped for several years I 
found thai I really only started to get at the root of things when I had 
worked consistently for a while in the ring. However, the benefit of these 
exercises may be lost if they are applied under adverse circumstances; and 
I think that I should caution the student, who like myself may try to do 
them some day on his own. Unless a horse is sufficiently schooled, a suc- 
cession of signals and different manoeuvers, for example a circle followed 
immediately by a serpentine, then a half-circle in reverse etc., is apt to 
excite and upset the horse, and in a few minutes, not only is the value 
of these exercises lost to horse and rider, but .you will have on your 
hands a serious problem a mentally upset horse. The correct approach 



LEARNING CONTROL ON THE INTERMEDIATE LEVEL 189 

to these exercises is first getting your horse perfectly relaxed, through 
riding an loose reins and light contact, for the first part of your lesson, 
without attempting any kind of manoeuvers; then, when your horse is 
limbered, calm and relaxed, go through a planned program of some 10 




Pic. 71 



190 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

to 15 minutes, where these exercises will follow each other in a not too 
abrupt fashion and will be interspersed with short periods of loose rein 
riding. 

I found that this way of doing things, besides being the most efficient, 
was also much more pleasant than the drudgery of ceaseless exercises 
reminiscent of parade grounds. Somehow or other, / noticed invariably 
that the horse then went about his business in a far pleasanter way. 

Changing directions across the ring. We have pointed out that it is im- 
portant to keep the horse straight during certain phases of the half-circles, 
half-circles in reverse, serpentines and zig-zags. One way to practice keep- 
ing the horse moving in a straight line following any kind of turns, is 
to work on changes of direction across the ring. To do this, aim your 
horse at the corner diagonally opposite to the one you happen to be 
rounding and cross the ring moving straight and forward until ready to 
turn again. When making this change at the trot, do not worry about 
which diagonal you may be posting on. You may follow the old rule of 
posting on the right or left diagonal according to which way you happen 
to be going; but this is really not necessary, as it is of no help to the 
horse. However, be sure to change occasionally in order to distribute the 
strain evenly on both diagonals. For instance, trot five minutes on one 
diagonal and then five on the other. 

This straight movement across the arena, immediately after a turn and 
without watts to guide you is much more difficult than a novice may think. 
It took me a long time to master it. If I was too gentle and passive, the 
horse wobbled; if, when trying to correct the latter, I became too energetic 
the horse would start pulling and increase the speed. Practically every 
horse required a different amount of leg. Captain Littauer was encour- 
aging me by telling how on one occasion not a single rider out of a class 
of fifteen experienced hunters could make an academically good diago- 
nal change of directions across the arena. 

Counter-gallop. When the horse gallops to the left on a right lead, or 
to the right on a left lead, it is called the counter-gallop. There are many 
practical instances, both in the hunting field and in horse shows, where 
a horse may be called on to counter-gallop, rather than change leads. For 
example, when two changes of lead in rapid succession would be indicated, 
it is preferable to keep the horse on one lead throughout, than be forced 
to make two flying changes. 

To obtain a counter-gallop in a ring from a semi-schooled horse, start 
on a correct lead and make a half -circle or a half-circle in reverse to get 
into the false or counter-gallop. When galloping on the right lead main- 
tain the gallop by using your right leg rhythmically at the girth (at the 
girth and not behind it, as the latter action might make the horse 
change leads). Galloping on the left lead, use your left leg. Keep the 
horse's head turned slightly to the side of the lead on which you are 



LEARNING CONTROL ON THE INTERMEDIATE LEVEL 191 

galloping (Picture 73). It Is the only time when the horse's head and body 
, are bent In the opposite direction to the path of movement. 

/ found that when jumping a course it did not pay to be too lead con- 
scious, and that unless my horse was actually either off balance or discon- 
nected^ it made no difference on what lead I was galloping. 

Entering corners. When working In the ring, keep the horse close Into 
the corners, or he will tend to cut them more and more, inching toward 
the inside of the ring. If he attempts to turn his corner crabwise, use your 
Inside leg at the girth and move both hands to the outside. The Inside 
rein used as rein of Indirect opposition in front of the withers must be the 
stronger; It keeps the horse's head slightly toward the Inside while push- 
Ing the forehand to the outside. The Inside leg prevents the rest of the 
horse from coming toward the center of the ring. The slower the gait, the 
closer you can keep to the corners. 

Those of our less fortunate readers who have been exposed to riding 
academy hacks, have no doubt remarked that most irritating habit of 
these ruined horses to move in a crabwise fashion, away from the knee- 
boards toward the center of the ring. I have come to the conclusion, after 
riding many such specimens, that the application of the above recipe will 
work on them only after hours of tedious work to break a habit acquired 
by years of being badly ridden. 

TURNS IN PLACE 

Half-turn on the forehand. (Picture 74) When making a half-turn on the 
forehand, the horse's quarters move to the left or to the right, describing 





Pic. 75 



Pic. 74 



Pic. 75 



192 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

a half-circle around the fore legs. The horse should not pivot on the fore 
leg, but should mark time with one leg while the other makes a small 
circle around it. To rotate the hindquarters to the left, apply the right 
leg behind the girth, and tapping gently, push the horse's hindquarters to 
the left. As the rider's right leg acts behind the girth, his left remains 
steady at the girth and acts as a guard to prevent the horse from moving 
to the left with all his body. The rider's hands are passive, merely main- 
taining a contact; they act only if the horse decides to move forward in 
this case they will check. The horse's body should be straight from nose 
to tail; however, in the case of the horse resisting the rider's legs, the 
rider may correct this by turning the horse's neck and head to the 
right, which will force the horse's hindquarters to move to the left. Under 
ideal conditions, however, the hands remain completely passive, merely 
maintaining contact. (To rotate the hindquarters to the right, reverse the 
aids). While acting to turn the quarters, the legs also maintain enough 
impulsion to preserve contact on the reins and to prevent the horse from 
backing. 

I was told by my instructor that the secret in learning to make a suc- 
cessful turn on the forehand depended on not hurrying it, but taking 
one's time; if necessary waiting 2 or 3 seconds after each step of the horse. 
Otherwise, if hurried, the horse will start pivoting on one leg or, worse 
still, will scramble around with all his body. 

A finished turn must consist of well-connected, soft and precise steps, 
but in order to arrive at it, both horse and rider must learn by doing it 
gradually. 

Half-Turn on the quarters. (Picture 75) This means that the horse rotates 
his forehand along the circumference of a half-circle whose center is a 
small area on which move the horse's hind legs. These move, not pivot, 
one hind leg describing a very small circle around the other hind leg, 
which merely marks time. 

Now for the rider's actions: first, close your legs, to bring the horse to 
attention and to establish contact between his mouth and your hands. 
Now, move your hands to the left (half- turn on the haunches to the left); 
your left rein acts as a leading rein (sometimes direct rein of opposition 
is preferable), your right as a rein of indirect opposition in front of the 
withers. The horse's head is turned slightly to the left, but his body is 
straight. The rider's left leg is at the girth, ready to act if the horse de- 
cides to take a side step or begins to turn too swiftly. The rider's right leg 
is behind the girth; if the horse were suddenly to move his haunches to 
the right it would ruin the movement, consequently, the rider's right leg 
must act behind the girth, causing the horse's right hind to move forward 
and to the left, in the small area on which the hindquarters revolve. When 
turning to the right, reverse the aids. 

1) If the horse tries to back, release the reins and squeeze him forward 
with both legs. 



LEARNING CONTROL ON THE INTERMEDIATE LEVEL 193 

2) If the horse tries to move forward diminish the leg and check with 
both hands. 

Two difficulties confronted me when making this turn, which I found 
considerably more complex than that on the forehand: 1) If the hands 
were the least bit overactive, the horse tried to back and I found it hard 
to catch that moment in the incipient stage. 2) If I hurried the move- 
ment, the horse would simply push its hindquarters outward against my 
leg and would complete the turn as on the forehand. 

As in the turn on the forehand, when learning, the best results were had 
if I took time out (a few seconds) after each step of the horse. This actually 
only while learning, for the finished intermediate performance calls for 
four united steps. My difficulty, then, lay in moving softly and yet with- 
oul interruption. If I tried the least bit to force 
the horse around with my hands, the horse's head 
I went up and the neck twisted sideways, or the above 
listed two evils spoiled my performance. 

Two Tracks. The horse moves two tracking when 
the axis of his body remains parallel to the axis of 
the ring, but he himself moves obliquely. The 
horse's head is slightly turned at the poll, in the 
direction of the movement. (Picture 76) When mov- 
ing to the right, the horse's near fore crosses over 
and forward of the off fore and the near hind 
crosses the path of the off hind. 

To execute two tracks correctly on the inter- 
mediate level, choose a line of movement and move 
straight along It; then if you choose to move at two 
track to the right, apply the left leg behind the 
girth (in a series of light taps). The right leg main- 
tains Impulsion at the girth; "the right hand draws 
the horse's forehand to the right with a light leading 
rein effect; the left rein acts as a left rein of indirect 
opposition in front of the withers and helps to 
move the horse's forehand to the right. To remain 
united with the horse you must carry your weight 
to the right, bearing on the right stirrup. The main 
points to observe: 1} Do not obtain excessive lateral 
motion at the expense of loss of movement forward; 
2) Have the horse look toward the direction of 
movement, never the other way; 3) Do not let the 
action of your hands Impede the Impulsion given 
by your legs. 

p. 7 It was the third point which I found the most dif- 

ficult to master. Anxious to move the horse obliquely, 




194 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

my hands exceeded in intensity the action of my legs; the result was that 
my horse hung on my hands, impulsion was lost and the horse's body 
acquired a twisted and cramped position. A sense of rhythm was im- 
perative in coordinating the action of my outside leg with the horse's 
strides., while eventually the hands moved merely in a series of light signals. 

It took me longer to learn two tracks than any other movement, and 
I found it to be really the culminating phase of hand and leg cooperation. 
Whereas in turns on the forehand and haunches (also lateral movements) 
the horse remained stationary, the forward movement in two tracks made 
it difficult to stay with the horse, and yet be free to act freely with hands 
and legs. 

Approaching a jump. Once the gait and speed at which the rider wishes 
his horse to take the obstacle have been set and the immediate approach 
to the jump has begun, no restraining, pushing or any other activity must 
stem from the rider, except for a squeeze of the calves which indicates 
to the horse that he is committed to the jump. Only if the horse begins 
to lose impulse is any stronger action of the legs warranted. The rider's 
arms follow the horse's mouth, back and forth, in piston-like action; 
fingers, wrists, elbows and shoulders should relax. Tension on the reins 
should progressively diminish during the last three strides, and be equal 
to zero at the moment of the take-off (that is, if you ate certain that the 
horse intends to jump the obstacle). The rider looks over and beyond the 
fence. The exception, of course, is jumping in the hunting field, where 
the rider's eyes njust be on the ground as well for possible pitfalls rocks, 
holes, mud, etc. He should await the jump in a state of passive alertness 
his position as described in Chapter VI. 

The greatest difficulty that I experienced was in remaining passive. I 
always attempted to ride the last three- strides by urging the horse with my 
legs, in some cases even trying to enhance the action of my legs by check- 
ing the horse with my reins. Though, occasionally, such tricks worked, 
and my horse actually jumped higher, continuous interference resulted 
in the horse becoming tense and no longer attempting to calculate his own 
approach to the jump. The key to success, I found, was to have the horse 
approach the jump in such a manner as if it did not exist at all, looking 
over and beyond it, the only indication that the horse was headed for an 
obstacle being a certain state of relaxed alertness on the part of the animal. 
I found that my control, under perfect conditions, was then limited only 
to a squeeze of the calves, while my arms moved back and forth following 
the horse's rfiouth. 

Imperfect approach. Nothing in life is always perfect, nor are the ap- 
proaches to a jump an exception to this rule; they are not always as smooth 
and pleasant as prescribed in books. For instance, sometimes on a pulling 
horse you suddenly find yourself at the jump, while still restraining him. I 
found in that case (and here speaks the -voice of bitter experience), that 
sudden abandonment of the hold on the horse's mouth, when just a 



LEARNING CONTROL ON THE INTERMEDIATE LEVEL 195 

stride or two away from the jump led to disaster; the horse unbalanced 
by the sudden release, refused, or worse, catapulted blindly into the 
jump. I found that the best course of action lay in maintaining the con- 
tact (even though heavier than desirable), until the horse rose at the 
jump y then following through with my arms endeavoring to give (even 
though belatedly) freedom to the horse's head and neck in their balancing 
efforts over the obstacle. 

In the case of a potential refusal or run-out, I learned thqt a slight 
increase in the contact is a great help. The horse then -feels, in a manner 
of speaking, that he is boxed in a corridor, between the rider's hands and 
strongly active legs: his only way out is over the jump. 

In the course of having had the misfortune to jump, at different times, 
badly schooled horses, I eventually learned a few helpful recipes to pre- 
vent run-outs: for example, when a horse indicates his intention to veer 
off, while some distance away from the jump, and advances his shoulder 
to the right, let us say, the right rein of indirect opposition, coupled with 
the use of the rider's right leg, should straighten out the horse. However, 
if the run-out is attempted in the last few strides, a quick action of the 
left direct rein, and of the left leg, should swing the front and the croup 
into line. At the jump-off, on hesitating horses, the rider should give a pow- 
erful push, which in the last decisive second may mean the difference 
between a jump and a run-out or refusal 

However, the full answer lies in riding schooled horses and not having 
to resort to any such expedients. A run-out should be an exception and 
not a rule. 

Galloping away from the jump. Upon landing, stay off the saddle. Do 
not restrain the horse until he has taken two or three strides and regained 
his balance; it should not be done earlier. Interference with the horse's 
recovery of balance on landing will make Mm nervous and he may begin 
to rush his fences or to throw the head up when landing and lose the 
good quality of his gait. 

It was a long time before I started to pay attention to what happened 
after a jump. The pleasure of having cleared the obstacle successfully 
made me feel careless for a few seconds afterwards most vital seconds, 
as I subsequently learned, for they are the time when the horse readjusts 
himself to the violent change in balance. I found that with my weight 
well off the saddle and a light contact, the horse stretched his neck and 
easily rebalanced himself in a few strides. 

Jumping over easy courses. On starting, select your pace and attempt 
to maintain it throughout the course with the least possible variations; 
though certain obstacles may require to be taken faster (wide jumps) and 
others somewhat slower (in-and-outs, jumps situated at difficult angles 
and after sharp turns), the transitions in the speed should be gradual and 
never brisk. Attempt to make all turns as sweeping as possible and come 
in straight at the obstacle; once committed to the approach of the jump, 



196 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

look over and beyond it this will keep you from being tempted to calcu- 
late the approach yourself, thereby usually interfering with the horse's own 
calculations. Do not look back to see whether you have knocked the obsta- 
cle, but keep your eyes on the course ahead. Do not anticipate what may 
or may not happen at any one jump; commit your horse and stay still 
with the weight well in the stirrups; act only If you feel that the horse Is 
about to rush or that the forward Impulse Is dying down or that the horse 
begins to waver. Upon completion of the last jump, do not stop your horse 
like a polo pony; stop as gradually as space permits. On an Intermediate 
level the passiveness of the rider is essential. In advanced riding, when 
competing in the show ring over difficult courses, the hands and legs of 
the rider will be more active, the horse then being ridden more on the bit. 

As regards the uniform speed to be maintained while riding a course: 
I found a somewhat useful, though approximate, simile in comparing it 
to a song though you may sing certain parts of it slowly and others fast, 
the time frequently remains constant. I found that though on occasions 
an ever-increasing pressure of the legs was necessary to clear an obstacle, 
usually once the forward impulse was established one had merely to main- 
tain it at its proper pitch. 

Cross-country riding on the intermediate level. One of the aims of inter- 
mediate riding Is efficient and pleasant riding in the field. In order to 
achieve this, we must work part of the time in the ring, where our own 
study and the schooling of the horse are made easier by a relatively con- 
fined space; but as we progress, more and more time must be applied to 
riding in the field. There we must strive to put into effect the results of 
our work in the ring; a quiet, relaxed, forward-moving horse, his head and 
neck free to perform their balancing movements, which the horse is now 
especially called on to use as he moves over the uneven terrain. Certain 
rules of field riding must be borne in mind: 

1) Distribute your gaits evenly; do not indulge in a sharp succession of 
short periods at different gaits, this will make the horse nervous. 

2) Alternate your gallops and trots with long periods of walk on loose 
reins. 

3) Choose your terrain with consideration for the horse; avoid stones 
and hard uneven surfaces, if forced to move over such walk. 

4) Do not ride on contact only; allow periods of canter and trot on a 
loose rein. 

5) Start and end your ride with a ten minute walk, first to limber your 
horse, and lastly to cool it off. If the horse is really, hot, the cooling-off walk 
should be longer than ten minutes. 

I found field riding as relaxing for myself as for the horse. After too 
much work m the ring, I found myself at times getting tense and feeling 
that my horse also was losing the game. Long periods of walk, trot and 
canter and some galloping in the field were then a pleasant and efficient 
tonic for the horse and myself . 



LEARNING CONTROL ON THE INTERMEDIATE LEVEL 197 

Cross-country jumping. Cross-country jumping should be as deliberate 
and as relaxed as when jumping in the ring. Though the pace may be 
occasionally faster, it should never be allowed to degenerate into a pell- 
mell scramble over fences. Obstacles should be approached at right angles 
and with a good clear approach, whenever possible. Maintain a light con- 
tact on the horse's mouth and follow carefully all movements of the 
horse's head and neck with your arms. 

In jumping cross-country one must pay great attention to what is on 
the other side of the fence (if you can see it in advance); landing on hard 
pavement is hardly a tonic for the horse's legs, and it's much better to pull 
up and lose some time than to risk an injured tendon. 

/ love cross-country jumping; to me it is the ultimate pleasure in riding. 
When, after working under Captain Littauer I had occasion to ride and 
jump across country on a schooled horse, I finally realized what great a 
difference it made when horse and rider were one the former bold but 
obedient, the latter efficient and authoritative. Months of scholastic work 
in the ring pay here their ample dividends and here it was that I under- 
stood that I had really learned something after much rigorous and, at 
times, not very lively work in the ring. 

Going up and down hill. We can bring under the heading of cross- 
country riding going up or down steep gradients both involving for the 
horse radical changes of balance. Just as in jumping, the horse requires, 
at such times, complete liberty of Ms balancing apparatus, the head and 
neck, and also the freedom of his motor, the hindquarters. We have de- 
scribed in Chapter VI the seat required from the rider; his control can 
be described in one word passivity. There is not an awful lot you can 
do profitably when the horse is sliding down a sharp gravel slope; except 
to check him in order to prevent his "rolling." Climbing a steep hill, 
the rider will concentrate on keeping his weight off the saddle; if neces- 
sary by grabbing the horse's mane and standing in the stirrups. The 
reins should preferably be loose. 

Rearing. A horse prone to rearing often has a sensitive mouth. There- 
fore, when the rider's hands become the least amount overactive, such 
a horse will be inclined to rear, particularly if his usual state is that of 
being behind the bit. If this happens, lean forward, grabbing the mane, 
loosen the reins completely; the instant the horse's forehand comes down 
to earth, urge strongly with your legs. The horse cannot easily rear while 
turning, hence you may anticipate rearing by sharply turning the horse 
around one or more times. 

Bucking. A young horse "full of beans" and one who has been con- 
fined a certain time in his stall will, upon emerging into fresh air, be 
tempted to buck. If given his freedom and spurred on, the bucks will 
increase in violence; therefore the best cure is anticipation and preven- 
tion. To get rid of the bucks: longe a frisky horse before mounting. 
When mounted, start with a long walk, keep contact with the horse's 



198 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

mouth, then follow with perhaps a five minute jog, sitting in the saddle; 
do this preferably in the paddock before coming out into the field. When 
bucks do occur, sit down deeply in the saddle, leaning slightly back. 
Bring your hands up (with a jerk, if necessary), in order to get the 
horse's head up; the horse can buck freely only when its head is down; 
hence, in anticipation, keep the horse's head up when you feel that 
bucks are "around the corner." 

Run-away. A run-away, other than one caused by bolting through 
sheer fright, is often the fault of the rider. There is a speed of the gallop 
beyond which the horse gains such impulse and momentum that he is 
sometimes carried away emotionally by the great pace. A rider should 
learn to "feel" the speed of the gallop beyond which it is not safe for 
him to let his horse go and to check him before he reaches it. It also 
happens to the person who keeps an uninterrupted pull on the reins 
while at the same time squeezing the horse with his legs. The bit pressing 
continuously and on one part of the horse's mouth, deadens it; the horse 
takes a firm hold and we are off. The run-away can usually be antici- 
pated and thereby prevented however, if it does happen, deal with it 
as shown under the radical method of decreasing gait . . . space permit- 
ting, attempt to get the horse galloping in an ever decreasing circle until 
brought to reason. Half-halts may be useful in preventing the horse 
from acquiring undesirable speed* 

Half-Halt. Close the fingers on the reins and move the hands quickly 
and forcefully upward; follow quickly with a "give." This causes the 
horse to raise its head and neck and transfer to the rear the weight put 
forward excessively on the shoulders. Half-halts should not be used in 
jumping. Though some talented riders do place the horse for the take- 
off by means of one or several half-halts, and then release him at the 
jump as one would release a coiled spring, this practice makes the horse 
dependent on split-second timing by the rider and he no longer can 
figure out by himself the correct approach to the jump. 

In the case of a rusher (though the only cure is, of course, complete re- 
schooling), half-halts can be successfully used in the following manner: 
some 2CK in front of the fence, one or more half-halts should check the 
horse sufficiently to prevent him from boring down into the fence in a 
fast and dangerous fashion. This, to repeat again, is something worth- 
while in the case of emergencies, but in no way to be used systematically 
as we so often see it done in shows. 

Voice Command, An important auxiliary to the use of the rider's hands 
and legs is the voice. A "whoa" or a click of . the . tongue are powerful 
aids when dealing with a horse that is used to being spoken to. Use 
your voice soothingly to calm, harshly to reprimand, authoritatively to 
bring obedience. A soothing voice may also be a. reward a harsh sound 
a warning to behave! 

It happened many times in the course of my riding studies that I was 



LEARNING CONTROL ON THE INTERMEDIATE LEVEL 199 

much helped in achieving this or that result by using my voice. On sev- 
eral occasions I was fortunate to avoid open rebellion where even 
expertly used hands and legs would have had quite a time. 

Punishment and reward. There is no fixed rule regarding punishment; 
when and how severely to punish is determined by equestrian tact, that 
unknown quality about which we spoke at the beginning of the chapter. 
Avoid punishment whenever possible, but when you have definitely 
ascertained that punishment is necessary, do it in a dispassionate way, 
do not fly into a tantrum; when you lose your temper you lose control of 
your actions, and usually lose the battle. 

The rule about rewarding is much simpler. Reward always when the 
horse has done what you have asked; a piece of sugar or a pat on the neck 
will accustom the horse to obeying your hand and leg signals; with will- 
ingness all work will be done more efficiently and much more pleasantly. 

I was lucky that in the course of my equestrian studies all my teachers, 
though differing radically on many aspects of riding, unanimously agreed 
and assiduously preached, "REWARD YOUR HORSE WHEN HE 
HAS DONE WELL." 

Both reward and punishment must follow quickly the right or wrong 
behavior of the horse. 

I am not one of those fortunate people who have their own horses, and 
who can apply one particular method of riding and schooling to them. 
These lucky ones are able to enjoy the results of a year's work on one 
horse. While studying with Captain Littauer I worked different horses 
for periods of weeks or days at a time; many were riding academy speci- 
mens, much abused by previous bad riding, and the process of bringing 
them to an even half-way responsive attitude so as to be able to learn 
control on them was a major problem. 

In order to resolve this problem, it was occasionally necessary to do 
things quite contrary to what you may find prescribed in this chapter. I 
mentioned this to Captain Littauer when we were assembling material 
for this book, and I said: "Captain, if we are going to tell people to do 
things which we have previously warned them against, we shall bewilder 
them." This was a point to consider. On the other hand, we both felt 
that those exceptions to the rules with which we are frequently con- 
fronted should be mentioned. For instance, many readers may have been 
invited for a day's hunting, and had to mount strange horses with whims 
and habits very different from those to which they were accustomed. Or 
there may be times, when vacationing somewhere or other that we are 
given the opportunity of riding an unfamiliar horse for a couple of 
weeks. In such or similar cases, it is impossible to re-school the horse and 
adapt him to our way of riding, even though, in the long run, our 
method may vastly improve him. Therefore, compromise may be neces- 
sary to a greater or lesser extent, depending on the ways of the horse. 



200 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

The main problem being, in such cases, to get on terms with the horse, 
and derive pleasure from riding him in as short a time as possible. 

The aim of intermediate control is a performance at which, as we have 
constantly repeated, the horse remains relaxed, not requiring more than 
mild leg signals and soft hands this is our ideal. But when confronted 
with unschooled, spoiled, upset horses no rules can be laid down, except 
the one given to me on many occasions by Captain Littauer: "First and 
foremost attempt to achieve a non-belligerent attitude on the part of the 
horse." Some readers, when reaching this part of the text, will remember 
particularly unpleasant devils that they have had the misfortune to strad- 
dle at times in their riding careers. We will discuss in the following pages 
these unpleasant specimens, assuming that we are not planning to re- 
school them but merely hope to arrive in as short a time as possible at a 
reasonable degree of understanding with the horse. This in no way devi- 
ates from Captain Littauer's system, but merely stresses the fact (and this 
is the main purpose of these pages), that all methods must be flexible 
enough to allow for exceptions. 

I once mounted a horse which, as soon as he felt my weight on his back 
and my legs at his sides, immediately assumed a heraldic attitude and 
pranced in lather for the next couple of hours; the lightest of contacts 
(I held the rein in two fingers) seemed too much, the mere inkling of a 
leg signal seemed to irritate this Bucephalus to the point of madness. A 
couple of days later, I saw the same horse cantering quietly for his owner 
who sat back on the cantle, his legs stuck far out along the horse's shoul- 
ders, the reins slack; when he wanted to give a signal, he jerked the 
reins this way or that and again allowed them to sag. To my amazement, 
this seemed to work perfectly. 

The next time I mounted the horse I tried this method; it produced 
immediate results. The instant I reverted to the conventional rational 
seat and brought my legs to the girth, things began to happen! Evidently 
the horse had become accustomed to carrying the rider's weight on his 
kidneys the moment the rider transferred his weight forward, the horse 
took it for a signal to rush on. Accustomed to a completely loose rein, he 
could not understand, and consequently refused, even the slightest ten- 
sion on the reins. The horse's owner carried his legs forward; in an atti- 
tude so often seen in old English hunting prints. Occasionally these legs 
swung back and kicked; they never pressed or gripped the horse's sides. 
Consequently, even a light contact grip annoyed the horse intensely. As 
the owner did not jump or ride across country, but merely hacked along 
roads and paths at a walk, trot and occasional canter, his seat and 
control, bad as they were, were quite sufficient for what he wanted. 

Efficient riding on an intermediate level requires no more than a 
snaffle bridle, but many times we see over-collected horses, burdened with 
heavy double bridles, whose looks alone suggest that they are pullers. 
Attempt first and foremost to get such a horse to stretch his neck, walk 



LEARNING CONTROL ON THE INTERMEDIATE LEVEL 201 

him on loose reins, dropping the curb reins entirely. If the horse stretches 
his neck and lowers his head try jogging, then trotting with loose reins; 
if the horse's head and neck remain stretched and low, you have won 
your battle. The chances are then that at a canter and gallop, providing 
nothing untoward happens, the horse will continue in the position in 
which we desire him to be, and which being the natural and the easier 
for the horse to assume, he will readily maintain. However., to this course 
of action there may also be exceptions. For example: some time ago / 
had occasion to mount such a horse for an afternoon of riding. The in- 
stant I was mounted, the horse collected himself into a bundle and took 
strong hold. I tried a walk on loose reins and after a short while did suc- 
ceed in obtaining a walk with outstretched neck. There,, however, my 
success ended, for no sooner had I requested a trot than up went the 
neck, in went the chin, and the horse, with a churning trot, pulled like a 
steam engine. The correct solution to the problem was, of course, many, 
many days of walking on a loose rein; and a complete gradual re-schooling 
of the horse. This was out of the question; the day was cold and I cher- 
ished but little the thought of freezing for the next couple of hours walk- 
ing a horse which I would never have a chance to school anyway. So I 
tried a last expedient: choosing a small enclosed field, only a little longer 
than a schooling ring, I set my horse into a canter. He immediately took 
hold and increased his speed, but instead of meeting the resistance of 
my hands, he met nothing but the slight pressure of contact. Evidently 
surprised, he kept on going fast, but his head dropped a little and I felt 
the muscles of his neck relax somewhat. A dozen circles and his neck was 
stretched, the gallop was slowing down considerably, and the reins were 
only slightly stretched. A quarter of an hour later I was trotting along 
the road on loose reins. This is not a method of curing a pulling, over- 
collected horse; it is not even an expedient worth considering on 99% 
of horses , but if it works with the 1% on which misfortune may some 
day plant you, then use it by all means. 

I believe in and practice- Captain Littauefs method of riding and 
schooling. I derive much pleasure and obtain good results from it when 
I try subordinating its rules to common sense and to my imagination, 
but I do not (and Captain Littauer constantly advises this himself) use 
these rules as I would a manual for the lubrication and maintenance of 
my automobile. 

For instance, I may some day ride a horse, relaxed and stabilized, but 
with the habit of holding his head turned to one side. Were I, through 
forceful control, to attempt straightening it, I would, most likely, meet 
resistance and upset the horse. Better to spend the day riding pleasantly 
and forget about straightening the horse's head. Now if this horse were 
given to me for a few months, then I would work on remedying this de- 
fect by suppling the horse in the stiff side of the body by means of circles, 
half-circles, and in the stiff side of the mouth by "playing* with the rein 



202 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

on that side by the application, in other words, of rules from the book. 

I may be invited hunting and may straddle a horse which gallops and 
jumps under a strong pull. Attempt to ride him on a light contact and I 
would be carted all over creation, But, -were I to buy this horse, I would 
spend three months or more stabilizing him and working over cavalettis 
until, I hope, eventually the horse would jump as described in the chap- 
ter on schooling. Then I am sure the horse would jump better and be a 
far more pleasant conveyance. 

To cite all the exceptions to the rules would be impossible or, at best, 
a most tedious business, nor is it the purpose of these pages to do so. My 
intention is to repeat again that studying a method of riding must be 
done thoroughly and one must be finally convinced of its superiority, as 
I happen to be convinced of the superiority of the method described in 
this book; but the application of the system to horses must be guided at 
all times by feeling, common sense and imagination; all three pre- 
requisites to dealing with any kind of being, whether of the human or 
animal variety. 



CHAPTER XII 

Advanced Control 



While Intermediate control strives for the soft, efficient performance of 
a hunter or jumper, advanced riding aims one notch higher and lays great 
stress on the quality of the horse's movement. This means excellent gaits, 
really skilful turns and transitions, and truly athletic jumping. 

A description of what constitutes a high quality of movement you can 
find in Chapter IX. Now a few words about Its practicability. It is obvious 
that If a horse is schooled with the quality of its movement always in view, 
a superior mount will be developed. Such a horse should have a better 
chance of winning in jumping competitions, but is not necessarily a better 
hunter than a horse schooled on the Intermediate level; that Is, as far as 
the actual negotiating of a country is concerned. While a horse which is 
schooled to move softly and efficiently should be a very adequate hunter, 
it will take a discriminating and well-educated rider to appreciate in the 
hunting field the superior qualities of an advanced horse. 

Even the statement that a horse schooled on the basis of advanced riding 
will have a better chance of winning is true only if he is competing against 
less well-schooled horses of equal abilities. No matter how excellently a 
horse is schooled, if he Is an animal with little natural gift for jumping, he 
will have small chance against a green but talented competitor. 

All in all, I believe that advanced riding that is, advanced schooling 
and correspondingly advanced control is a waste of time In the case of 
poor horses and is unnecessary for those human beings who are not Inter- 
ested in the finer points of life in general. If, upon taking up advanced rid- 
ing, you expect spectacular results from schooling any kind of a horse, 
you will be disappointed. The finer your aims are, the more carefully you 
should consider the material with which you propose to work; that is, 
you must thoroughly analyze the possibilities of turning a particular horse 
into an athlete, as well as estimate your own abilities to accomplish the 
job. But If your aspirations are not so lofty, and you are looking merely 
for a somewhat better quality of performance than that on the intermedi- 
ate level, then, even if your horse is not a perfect specimen, and even If you 
are merely an average rider, you can achieve something of a better order. 
You may not obtain magnificent gaits or consistency over 5' courses; but 
the gaits of your horse will be lighter and more pleasant than merely soft 
and efficient ones; and, although the jumping limit of your horse may be 
only a 4f fence, he will take It more acrobatically than a horse trained on 
the intermediate level. 

20S 



204 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

Obviously, advanced control is very closely connected with advanced 
schooling. The horse will respond only to what he knows and the fine 
efforts of an advanced rider will be wasted on an insufficiently schooled 
horse. 

Summing up what has been said, it can be concluded that advanced 
riding cannot very well be recommended to everyone. To many people it 
is of no interest and of no necessity. And from the point of view of the 
horse, all people who do not make a sufficient effort to develop their 
riding technique should confine themselves to simpler riding, which is 
less likely to hurt the horse. Trying to use finesse without knowing how, 
usually results in abuse of the animal. Advanced control and advanced 
schooling will be worthwhile as ultimate aims only for the following 
categories of riders: 

1) Those who own very good horses and who desire to compete against 
equally good ones. Today in this country, as you know, there is a great 
abundance of magnificent horse-flesh. Schooling is, of course, the soundest 
way to get ahead among equally able horses. 

2) Those who love riding for riding's sake, who have good or even 
merely decent horses, who perhaps hunt, or perhaps show, but, in what- 
ever mounted sport they participate, do it for riding's sake, rather than 
for the game, and value a finished performance of the horse. 

Putting aside these general considerations, and looking for the actual 
differences between intermediate and advanced control, we find three 
main ones: 

1) Riding the horse, at times fully on the bit (in contrast to the merely 
soft contact of intermediate control). 

2) Obtaining halts and reductions in speed by the means of flexions 
(instead of merely the give-and-take of the intermediate level). 

3) Developing the horse's balance to the point where he can change 
easily from an extended to a semi-collected attitude (intermediate riding 
merely asks for soft increases and decreases of speed without any radical 
change from forward to central balance). 

These three principles, putting the horse on the bit, flexions, and semi- 
collection, considerably alter the technique of control. While later in this 
chapter I shall describe how they apply to specific movements, here, in 
general, is how they are obtained: 

Putting the horse on the bit. Let us assume that you are trotting on soft 
contact. You have obtained it by urging the horse lightly with your legs, 
not by pulling back on the reins. Now, let us suppose that you will urge 
still more with your legs. The horse will probably try to increase his speed, 
but you will prevent him from doing so with your hands. Let us further 
suppose that you will do it so tactfully that the horse is not going to pull, 



ADVANCED CONTROL 205 

but will merely ever-so-lightly increase the tension on the reins by stretch- 
ing his neck. I grant you that this is a great finesse; that is why it belongs 
to advanced riding. Attempts of an inadequately prepared rider to put 
the horse on the bit will result in an excited, pulling horse, and eventu- 
ally in a dead mouth. 

But imagine you have done it all very tactfully; then this is what has 
happened under you: the urging with your legs activated the horse's hind- 
quarters; this energy, travelling through the horse's back has reached the 
neck, stretched it and the horse has taken a slightly firmer hold of your 
hands; the movement of the hindquarters and forehand has become 
united; now the horse moves in one piece. Thus moving on the bit, syn- 
chronizing the action of the hind and fore legs of the horse, improves the 
gait. 

On a very well-schooled horse a rider can even drop the reins and for 
a dozen strides or more, the animal will continue to move as connectedly 
(not collectedly) as on the bit. Approaching an obstacle on such a horse, 
the rider can connect him a dozen or so strides before the jump and then 
gradually diminish the tension on the reins to zero and the horse's body 
will 'still be, at the take-off, perfectly synchronized. 

When putting your horse on the bit you should consider the following 
matters: 

1) The horse must take the bit with the neck and head stretched and 
mouth closed. Exception: semi-collected gaits; about them, later. 

2) If the horse has started to pull or to increase the speed of the original 
gait it means that you are using too much leg. 

5) If the horse tosses his head, or opens his mouth or brings the chin 
in, at the same time slowing down the gait, it means that you axe using 
too much hand. 

4) The difference in the feeling to your hands between riding on the 
bit and riding on contact should be slight; where you should be looking 
for the difference is in the movement of the horse. 

It is easy enough to lay down laws that the horse must be ridden on 
soft contact in intermediate riding and be softly on the bit in advanced 
riding. It is true that a good rider can achieve either on any decently 
schooled horse at a walk, trot and canter; a fast gallop, however, presents 
specific difficulties. 

At a gallop the natural inclination of a strong, ambitious horse often is 
to go faster than his rider desires (particularly when in company) and 
such a horse will constantly have to be restrained. Of course this will 
rarely happen in cases of lazy or weak horses who need urging; horses of 
a placid disposition, who easily obey rider's orders or keep an even hunt- 
ing pace of their own accord; or horses whose cooperation with their riders 
has been developed through schooling. 

And there is another important condition movement. As I have al- 
ready explained, movement is a series of states of lost and regained equi- 



206 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

librium. The faster the movement, the more pronounced is the loss of 
balance to the front and it takes a very skilful horse to retrieve it suffi- 
ciently and in time. Hence, unless the horse's balance (in the widest 
sense) in other words, his ability to switch his weight as necessity re- 
quires has been developed to a high degree in schooling, a fast gallop- 
ing horse will have a tendency to be heavy in front, and hence to lean 
on the rider's hands. 

To sum up: it is important to remember that having the horse softly on 
the bit depends more on the degree of schooling of the horse than on the 
dexterity of the rider. 

Flexions (direct and lateral). Flexion is a relaxed retraction of the 
lower jaw as a result of increased tension on the reins. Flexions can be 
direct or lateral. 

Direct flexion is a retraction of the lower jaw in the vertical plane in 
response to increased tension on both reins and is used in slowing down, 
halting, semi-collected gaits and, sometimes, in backing. 

Lateral flexion is a retraction of the lower jaw combined with a turning 
of the head to one side in response to the increased tension on one rein. 
It is used during short turns. 

What is to be 'gained through flexion can be summed up in one word: 
softness. Here is why: 

Let us suppose you are trotting and wish to obtain a very gradual halt 
and you don't care how long the transitional period from trot to halt 
takes; then, by means of give and take, you can obtain a soft halt. But 
supposing, for one reason or another, you wish to make an abrupt halt; 
then your increases of tension on the reins will have to be considerable 
and they may throw the horse's neck up, open his mouth and, in general, 
stiffen the whole animal. In an emergency this may be acceptable, but it 
cannot be considered a soft halt. But if your horse has been taught flexion, 
then as a result of increased tension on the reins (to a certain point), he 
will flex in the mouth, causing a resultant flexion in the poll and the 
reins will slacken instead of tightening; and after a couple of flexions, the 
horse will halt. 

For the same reason flexion is helpful in slowing down and is very 
necessary at semi-collected gaits; but the latter will be specifically dis- 
cussed later on. Some horses, however, will learn an abrupt, soft halt 
without flexions. 

In "Dressage," where perfection of flexion is necessary, a curb bit is 
imperative. But what can be considered good flexion for field riding can 
be very well obtained on the snaffle, and the fact that there 'is no curb in 
the horse's mouth greatly simplifies the rider's technique. 

The technique of obtaining flexion on a horse educated to.it (it natu- 
rally cannot be done on an untrained horse) is as follows: 

Let us assume that you are walking and wish to halt softly and rather 
abruptly. You increase slightly the urging of your legs so that, at least 
momentarily, the horse takes the bit and then you increase the tension on 



ADVANCED CONTROL 207 

the reins. The moment the horse has relaxed his jaw, you give the reins, 
repeat the procedure once more, increasing the tension on the reins to the 
point where the horse knows that not merely a flexion but a halt is re- 
quired from him. Then perhaps you will need to do it a third time while 
the halt Is already in the making, and you will have a soft, relaxed and 
comparatively quick halt. 

The technique of slowing the horse by means of flexions is exactly the 
same; and how the horse Is educated to flexion you will find In 
Chapter XV. 

One of the common faults in flexing Is overflexing, otherwise called 
"dropping the bit." It Is a common occurrence in the case of horses with 
sensitive mouths, who were taught to flex before being taught to move for- 
ward on the bit or at least on contact. In such cases sometimes even a 
light pressure on the bit (particularly If It Is a curb) will cause the horse 
to drop his whole neck and head abruptly. The chin will come far in; you 
will hear the dropped bit dangling in the horse's mouth and you will have 
under you a horse which is behind the bit; in such a state, he is uncontrol- 
lable. This is one reason why I suggested urging with the legs before^ at- 
tempting to flex the mouth with the hands; it Is a precaution against 
overflexion. But, on horses which move well on the bit and which do not 
overflex, flexions can be and, in many cases, should be obtained by the 
hands alone. 

When a horse is on the bit the degree of tension on the reins at different 
gaits varies in direct ratio to the speed; in other words, the horse takes a 
stronger hold of the rider's hands at the gallop than at the walk. And if 
an increase in tension on the reins, over and above that normal for what- 
ever speed the horse is travelling at, causes the horse to flex, then It means 
that he has an Ideal, obedient, educated mouth. 

But such an ideal state of affairs rarely exists in life, and my prediction 
is that, while it will be easy for you to halt a horse from a walk or to slow 
an ordinary trot down by means of flexions, you probably will never be 
able to decrease the speed of a really fast gallop by these refined means 
alone. At least the first part of slowing a fast gallop will lack flexions, and 
they may appear only after the original pace has been considerably cut. 
I am pessimistic about this, because the horse Is in high spirits when 
galloping fast and will not be very attentive to light variations in the 
tension on the reins; also because the momentum of a fast pace and the 
strongly pronounced forward balance of it are not conducive to a quick, 
soft slowing down. It is really at semi-collected gaits that flexion will 
come easiest. 

In 19th century books on riding great stress is put on the high position 
of the neck during flexion, and on an almost vertical position of the head 
as the result of flexion. Today, one will aim at achieving something simi- 
lar at semi-collected gaits; but it has nothing to do with flexion at ordi- 
nary gaits. During such gaits the neck and head are stretched and although 



208 . COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

they will change their positions while flexing, this change should not be 
too radical. However, if your slowing down or halt is very abrupt then, 
in order to execute it, the horse will have to bring his hindquarters under 
and, as a result, the neck will go up and the head may assume an almost 
vertical position. 

Lateral flexions. The technique for obtaining lateral flexion is practi- 
cally the same as for the direct one. Some horses will have to be urged 
with the legs, others not. The difference lies only in using one hand in- 
stead of two. 

Lateral flexion softens a movement along a very sharp curve (as when 
making a circle of only 20' in diameter), because in order to move softly 
along such a sharp curve the horse must bend. His body must assume the 
shape of the curve and this is greatly facilitated by lateral flexions in the 
direction in which he is moving. 

Lateral flexion may require the use of the legs in the majority of cases, 
foi: it should not be accompanied by a slowing down of speed. Practically, 
it is used only at semi-collected gaits, for only at such gaits would one 
attempt such small circles. Hence lateral flexion is merely an exercise in 
the physical development of the horse. It is only once in a blue moon that 
you may have practical use for it; for instance, on a short turn in horse 
show jumping, and then only providing that there is enough room to 
stretch the horse's neck before arriving at the next obstacle. 

Flexion is very closely connected with moving on the bit, and I think 
that the easiest way to make you appreciate this is by giving you the whole 
picture of the relationship of legs to hands on different levels of riding. 
This relationship is based on the rule that the more the rider urges the 
horse forward the more effective must be the means of making him "come 
back/' 

In elementary riding, where the horse is partly urged with the voice and 
in general urged only to move at slow ordinary gaits on loose reins (stabi- 
lization), there, obviously, a voice command to slow down added to a 
plain check on the reins will be sufficient to get results. 

In, intermediate riding, where the horse is urged forward on contact 
and is kept on it to obtain an efficient movement, "give and take" becomes 
necessary to maintain softness and to regulate the gaits. 

In advanced riding, where the horse is put on the bit (to obtain a high 
quality of movement) by somewhat stronger legs than in intermediate 
control, and hence gains in impulse, a more effective means of checking 
the horse softly becomes imperative hence flexion. 

Semi-collected gaits. In Chapter III, THE SEARCH FOR BALANCE, 
I have pointed out that a free horse, when excited, raises the neck, flexes 
the head at the poll and shifts weight in varying degrees to the hind- 
quarters. This distribution of weight and a specific tuning of the muscles 
(due to this attitude) result in high, cadenced movements. In nature they 
are movements produced by an emotional state; in riding we call these 



ADVANCED CONTROL - 209 

collected gaits, and the difficulty in obtaining them arises from the fact 
that we want the horse to execute them animatedly but coolly, and as a 
result of the rider's orders and not of his own excitement. 

A collected horse is in central balance and thus, having a lighter fore- 
hand than when in forward balance and the hindquarters staying more 
under the croup can be extremely skilful at all sorts of turns, lateral 
movements and transitions at slow gaits. Hence manege Dressage is based 
on collection. However, in cross-country riding and in jumping, where 
galloping and the negotiation of obstacles require forward balance, col- 
lection is of no practical use except in the schooling where it is used for 
gymnastics. To be exact, I suggested the use of it, not in the form of 
full collection, but of semi-collection. What the difference is between 
full and semi-collection you will find in Chapter IX, WHAT IS A 
GOOD PERFORMANCE OF THE HORSE? and how semi-collection 
is developed is described in Chapter XV, THE PROCRAM OF 
SCHOOLING. 

When used discriminatingly in combination with free movements, 
semi-collection is a wonderful exercise for developing the longitudinal 
flexibility of the back, the pliability of the horse in general, and the knack 
of shifting his weight at will in other words, his balance. 

The present attitude of the great majority of my pupils is such that 
anything that requires a great deal of slow work on detailed refinements 
is not received enthusiastically, particularly if such work is not obviously 
connected with fast riding across country and over fences. Lack of en- 
thusiasm in anything precludes success. Semi-collection, which is used 
in the advanced level of riding and schooling, as it was originally pre- 
sented in this book, is the most debatable of these items. Since semi- 
collection does not (with a few exceptions) contribute sufficiently towards 
riding in cross-country competitions, in shows, or to hounds, I no longer 
insist today, as I once did, on eventually studying it. 

I find my new policy more practical, because experience shows that 
most people fail to learn collection even semi-collection and abuse 
and upset their horses in attempting it. The main aim of my teaching 
is to make competent jumpers and cross-country horses, and I believe 
that obtaining final results is more important than rigidly following a 
certain teaching or schooling program. I would much rather see a re- 
laxed jump of a horse without the benefit of semi-collection, than a stiff 
one as the result of the misuse of it. Whatever my tenets on the subject 
may be, I am ready to disregard them here and there to achieve better 
riding and better performance. 

But I still believe in the discriminating use of semi-collection in slow- 
ing down and halting, and even making a "few steps" of it as I originally 
suggested it in the text. Some horses definitely require it, while to some 
others it may come so easily that even an intermediate rider will be able 
to apply it here and there with ease and without disturbing the horse, 
thus obtaining refinements, if not practical advantages. 



210 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

Here I feel a few lines should be added, further defining the term 
semi-collection. Collection, as you know, is based on transferring a cer- 
tain amount of weight from the forehand to the hindquarters. Depend- 
ing on the amount of weight transferred to the rear, the collection may 
be of different degrees. A part of the technique of lightening the fore- 
hand consists in raising the neck and bringing the head to a position 
more or less nearing the vertical. This raising of the neck and bringing 
the head in is, as a matter of fact, a lesson preparatory to full collection, 
and is called Ramener in French; there is no generally accepted English 
equivalent for it. A "few steps" of semi-collected gait really means 
nothing more than limiting oneself to the Ramener without forcefully 
transferring weight to the rear. 

In abrupt halting or slowing down, however, a cooperative horse will 
of his own accord switch a certain amount of weight to the rear by 
sitting to some degree on his hocks. Since he does it by himself, it means 
that it is natural; this I presume, is why General Charnberlin in his 
book TRAINING HUNTERS, JUMPERS AND HACKS talks about "natural col- 
lection." This is also why I refer, in my original text, to "semi-collection 
or natural collection." This is rather confusing; all I intended to say 
was that in semi-collection the rider's efforts do not go beyond the 
Ramener, but that under certain circumstances the horse may naturally 
transfer some of the weight from the forehand to the quarters. 

The semi-extended trot is a long-striding trot with the neck and head 
carried in the position of the Ramener. Today 1 use it very seldom, 
again, because I do not believe that in the majority of cases teaching 
a horse to carry the neck high and the head in is helpful in developing 
a calm gallop and a relaxed jump. This carriage of the neck and head 
indicates excitement when a horse is in a state of liberty; under the rider 
it will still carry this association, and to this may be added the likeli- 
hood that an unskilled rider in the process of inducing this carriage in 
the horse may upset him. Systematic, judicious training can eventually 
produce collection in a calm horse, but such a degree of artistry is not 
within the reach of the averagely good rider. 

On the whole, although a semi-extended trot may look dramatic and 
be admired by the audience, a simple lengthening of strides, the horse 
remaining in forward balance with an extended neck, is a sounder exer- 
cise for the majority of hunters and jumpers. In the latter case the 
lengthening of the stride primarily indicates obedience to the legs, and 
the subsequent shortening of the stride, obedience to the hands. Thus 
this exercise develops obedience to the aids. This objedience permits the 
practice of the exercise known as the three speeds at the trot, whose chief 
virtue is that it leads to the three speeds at the canter. The latter has 
actual practical value, for the horse can place himself (or be placed) for 
a correct take-off only if he can lengthen or shorten his galloping stride. 

Please note that even in the original text I minimized the importance 



ADVANCED CONTROL 211 

of semi-collection by requiring only "a few steps" of it and by stating 
that it is "an exercise only." 

Also, In that part of the original text dealing with how to obtain 
semi-collection (page 277) I say; "The main point to watch Is not neces- 
sarily the engagement of the hindquarters, or a somewhat arched position 
of the neck and head, but the repeated flexions (about one in each stride) 
which insure the softness of the movement/' 

Accordingly, a few words on my present attitude toward flexions be- 
come necessary. In this respect I am very adaptable. If a horse comes 
back softly without flexions but with a natural, relaxed attitude of the 
neck and head, I do not Insist on teaching them; but I have no objec- 
tion to a horse naturally flexing, if this does not result In his staying 
behind the bit for too long a time. If the horse has a stiff poll and I 
wish to relax It, I make an Issue of teaching him flexions. In other words, 
in this case 1 follow the general principle of my schooling that Is, of 
achieving final results rather than of pedantically following a precon- 
ceived program. I always, so to speak, try to play by ear. 

Now, how to achieve a semi-collected movement: the technique of ob- 
taining It at a walk, trot or canter is the same; but It Is easiest at a trot. 
At a walk you will usually find that the horse does not have sufficient Im- 
pulse; at the canter, he may have too much; and at both these gaits he will 
have a stronger inclination to switch his weight forward than at a trot. 

Suppose you are moving at an ordinary trot and you desire to change 
to a semi-collected one; the first thing to do is to stop posting and bring 
the horse down to a slow trot, lightly on the bit or on contact. Then you 
should urge the horse forward with your legs to activate the hindquarters, 
and with your hands receive the energy thus produced, not allowing it to 
be transformed into an Increase of speed. Meeting the resistance of your 
hands, a horse who has been taught flexions should flex. In the course of 
this process, the neck will rise somewhat and the head will bend in the 
poll. The moment the horse has flexed you give with your hands and 
Immediately urge with the legs once more, again obtaining a flexion. 
After you have repeated this a few times the horse's neck will rise con- 
siderably and the flexions, which follow each other about once every 
stride, will keep the head in an almost vertical position. Once this atti- 
tude has been assumed, the horse's legs will begin to act more upward 
than forward and you will have a semi-collected gait; in order to 
maintain it, continue to urge, at the same time checking with flexions. 

I again repeat that you should use collection as an exercise only, 
usually not more than for a couple of dozen strides. Every semi-collected 
period must start from a free movement and end by a free movement; 
only if this rule is observed does the exercise have any value. 

When obtaining an abrupt slowing down or a halt by means of rapidly 
switching the horse's weight from the forehand to the quarters, the rider 
must move his torso back (decrease the angle forward) to preserve his 



212 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

unity with the horse. This has all been described in Chapter VI, LEARN- 
ING THE FORWARD SEAT. 

During early schooling and when working at semi-collected gaits, the 
rider's position will require the long schooling adjustment of the stir- 
rups, and at the semi-collected gaits the torso must be vertical to the 
ground. This is the case when for a score of strides the Forward Seat is 
changed to a Dressage one. It should be turned back to the schooling 
Forward Seat the moment a free movement is resumed. On a schooled 
horse it is not necessary to lengthen the stirrups in order to obtain good 
semi-collected gaits. 

While it makes no difference how you hold your reins, or how you use 
your hands when flexing the horse's mouth merely to soften the slowing 
down or the halting, you will be better off to abide by certain rules for 
semi-collected gaits. These rules are: 

1) Don't held your reins in a "driving'' position. Hold them the usual 
way: see Chapter VI. 

2) Don't hold your hands widely apart; there will be no neck and head 
gestures to follow, anyway. Keep about a fist's width between your hands. 

3) Hold your hands vertical. To obtain flexion, bend your hands from 
the wrists downwards; to release the tension on the reins afterwards, 
bend the hands upwards. On a horse with a well-educated mouth this can 
be obtained merely by a play of fingers. 

4) The arms, as usual, should be bent at the elbows, elbows slightly 
ahead of the hips and, whenever possible, there should be a straight line 
of action from the elbows to the horse's mouth. 

Being on the bit, flexion, collection, are very much abused terms. 
People who are unable to ride on loose reins, and who have not the 
slightest idea of what soft contact is, talk freely about riding on the bit 
and collecting their horses. Never having felt a soft, educated mouth in a 
horse and not having soft, educated hands themselves, they don't realize 
that they are merely riding pulling hence 1 abominably stiffly-moving 
horses. Many people think that collection" means just an arched neck, 
that flexion is merely dropping the bit; and quite often horses which are 
pulling are referred to as being on the bit. 

These misconceptions are a hang-over from 19th century teaching 
when, in Dressage, these three fine points of riding were taught to rank 
beginners, because without them there was no Dressage type of riding; 
and anything different was not considered riding at all. There still are, 
in fact, people who think this way. 

Transitions. If your horse has been schooled to move on the bit, to flex 
and to execute semi-collected gaits while you, yourself, know the tech- 
nique of obtaining these three things, then you will be able to obtain 
extremely smooth transitions in which the original gait is good almost 
to the last stride and the new gait is good from the first stride. This, of 
course, is an ideal; but you can come very near to it in practice. 



ADVANCED CONTROL 213 

Here is an account of the necessary technique: let us suppose that you 
are at an ordinary trot and wish to obtain a halt. You make certain that 
your horse is lightly on the bit; then, very gradually, increase the tension 
on the reins and, just before the horse actually begins to slow down, you 
urge him with your legs while, with your hands, you obtain the first 
flexion. Then again urge with the legs and again obtain a flexion. By 
now the character of the trot changes; the ordinary trot has been re- 
placed by the first stride of a semi-collected trot; another urge with the 
legs, another flexion with a slowing down check attached to it, and the 
semi-collected trot has become really slow; another very short stride of It 
and the horse comes to a halt in a semi-collected position, standing 
squarely. 

If, after the original slowing down and the first flexion, you would at- 
tempt to maintain the new slow trot and keep it energetic with your legs 
and soft, through repeated flexions, you would have a semi-collected 
trot, obtained through a perfect transition. 

If, after halting the horse, you wish to resume the ordinary gait, then, 
while standing still, gradually give the reins, at the same time very 
lightly applying the leg, so that the horse stretches his neck in proportion 
to the rein given; and when you feel that the horse with extended neck 
is taking the bit, you make your first step forward. This having the horse 
on the bit from the first stride (or almost the first) is the secret of a good 
transition from a slower to a faster gait. On the other hand, semi-collec- 
tion with flexions is the secret of the perfect terminating of a gait or 
slowing down. 

A horse performing In this manner presents a beautiful picture to the 
eye of a connoisseur, as any athletic and plastically moving animal would. 
But it has little practical value in the hunting field or in the jumping 
ring; first, because what can be done at slow gaits cannot be done at a fast 
gallop, and secondly because in these two particular sports the rider has 
no time for niceties. But just the same, I think that changing from for- 
ward movement on the bit to a semi-collected movement with flexions Is a 
wonderful gymnastic for the horse and greatly improves his suppleness 
and balance. Once the horse has been schooled on these principles and is 
ridden by an advanced rider then, although the rider may not consciously 
apply them in some sort of a jam in the hunting field, subconsciously he 
will use finer means than an intermediate rider, and the horse will 
respond more athletically than a horse schooled on the intermediate level. 

I hope you have not received the impression that all advanced riding 
is done on the bit with flexions and semi-collection. Please don't stumble 
into this pitfall. First of all, about one-third of any type of riding should 
be done on loose reins (more than one-third In elementary riding). A 
horse is not an automobile; he needs rest. Precise riding with good move- 
ment is tiring. Furthermore, of the remaining two-thirds of the riding, 
one-half should be done on the basis of intermediate control; that is, when 



214 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

schooling. In hacking, hunting or jumping, the occasions when you will 
ask your horse to perform on an advanced level will be rare and the 
duration of such periods should be short. It is only during competitions, 
such as the training test of the Three-Day-Event of the Olympic Games, 
that you will apply the principles of advanced riding consistently. 

Besides refinement of gaits and transitions, advanced riding includes 
the elaboration of several movements. Here they are: 

Backing. I) While in intermediate riding backing is only done after 
halting a horse from a walk, in advanced riding where, by means of 
flexion and semi-collection an abrupt, soft stop can be made, the horse 
can be backed from a trot or canter immediately after a very brief halt; 
and the gait can be resumed with a minimum of time for transition. If 
you remember, in intermediate riding all the changes of gaits are grad- 
ual; so if you are cantering and wish to halt, you must first go into a trot 
and then into a walk; hence no matter what the original gait, you will 
always be at a walk before halting. You should be as gradual when re- 
suming the gait. Attempts to do the whole thing halting, backing and 
resumption of the original gait on an intermediate horse, as abruptly 
as advanced riding calls for, would result in a struggle with a horse 
which is physically incapable of doing it. 

2) Advanced riding calls for the ability to back any odd number of 
steps; no more and no less. 

If you make an odd number of steps, such as five or seven then, at the 
end of backing, the horse must stand not squarely, but with one diagonal 
ahead of the other, or with one fore leg ahead of the other. 

Turn on the haunches. The turn on the haunches can be executed 
either at a walk or at a canter; the latter, which is called a "Pirouette," 
is a part of advanced Dressage, and hence is not a subject of this book. 

In intermediate riding the turn on the haunches is executed either 
from a walk or from a halt. Due to his knowledge of how to collect him- 
self, an advanced horse can make a very quick transition from a trot or 
canter to a walk; and hence it can be said rather inaccurately that an 
advanced horse can make a turn on the haunches either from a trot or 
from a canter (the actual turn is a,t a walk). 

Besides this, the differences between the turns on the haunches at the 
intermediate and advanced levels are in the execution of the turn itself. 
In advanced riding the half-turn on the haunches must consist of four 
definite, well-united steps, the hindquarters not pivoting but animated, 
one of the fore legs crossing well ahead of the other. All this can be 
achieved more easily if the horse is in a semi-collected attitude, head 
slightly turned in the direction of the movement. 

Obviously, such a turn has no practical value except for the physical 
education of the horse. But a horse whose skill has been developed to 



ADVANCED CONTROL 215 

this point will be a much more agile animal in the hunting field or 
elsewhere, even when no such thing is demanded of him. 

The technique of making an advanced turn on the haunches (rotating 
the forehand to the left, let us say) is as follows: Upon bringing the horse 
to a walk or a halt, increase the tension on the left rein to turn the head 
slightly to the left (if possible through a lateral flexion); then, moving 
both your hands to the left, rotate the front of the horse in this direction, 
helping with continuous tapping of the right leg behind the girth this 
will help to turn the horse and will prevent the right hind leg from get- 
ting out from under the body; keep the left leg at the girth to regulate 
the turn use it if the horse turns too fast, or side-steps to the left. In the 
course of the turn try to obtain a couple of flexions lateral ones will, 
of course, satisfy any academician; but just ordinary direct ones will be 
much better than nothing. 

Half-turn on the forehand. While the turn on the haunches is a valu- 
able exercise, the turn on the forehand is not, and it is used only to teach 
the horse to yield the quarters to the action of one leg applied to the 
rear of the girth. Once the horse has learned this, the movement soon 
loses its importance in schooling but may be asked here and there in 
actual riding for turning the horse in a spot where there isn't much 
elbow room. 

If, for one reason or another, you would like to execute it very accu- 
rately, then you should use the aids the same way as in intermediate con- 
trol, adding a couple of flexions and a slight turn of the head to the side 
toward which the quarters are rotating. This turn of the head to the left, 
in combination with the quarters rotating to the left, will bend the horse 
in the left side and so will make the movement lighter and will enable 
the rider to keep the forehand from moving in too large a circle. 

Semi-extended trot. At the intermediate level there are three speeds 
of the trot: slow, ordinary and fast. In advanced riding, while the or- 
dinary trot remains the same, the slow one occasionally takes the form 
of semi-collection, while the fast trot sometimes, and only for short 
periods, assumes a semi-extended form. 

The semi-extended trot is slower than the fast trot, but the period of 
suspension of the limbs is greater. It is unquestionably a stimulated 
movement and, as such, is a close relative of semi-collection, with a neck 
correspondingly high and head in. The difference in technique is as fol- 
lows: while to obtain a fast trot you merely push the horse forward on 
the bit and with the hands watch for possible breaking of the gait; in 
order to obtain a semi-extended trot you must first, of all place the horse 
in the semi-collected position and then extend the stride. 

This is a very difficult movement to execute softly, unless the horse 
has a natural impulse forward and a natural tendency to extend the 
forehand. 



216 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

Again, this is merely a gymnastic which can be used for the improve- 
ment of the ordinary gaits; it is in a better travelling trot that you should 
see the effect of bringing the horse to the point where he can do a 
semi-extended trot. 

Two tracks. The difference between the two tracks on the intermediate 
and the advanced level is in the quality of the movement. The long, free 
steps of two tracks are primarily developed through the use of a certain 
method in schooling which is described in Chapter XV. However, they 
will even be better through the mere fact that the legs and hands of an 
advanced rider will work in greater synchronization with the efforts of 
an advanced horse than those of an intermediate rider can with those of 
an intermediate horse. 

Of course, on an advanced horse you can execute two tracks at a semi- 
collected trot; it will be effective and it may impress many of your 
friends. But I am almost certain that the steps will become short, pos- 
sibly the horse will acquire a tendency to lead with the quarters and, at 
any rate, it will cease to be an exercise for a hunter or jumper. This is 
typical of most movements practiced on the Dressage principle; the 
practical value for a cross-country horse is replaced by mere showlness. 

Flying change of leads. As in the case of two tracks, a good change of 
leads is developed in schooling, and cannot be obtained by a merely fine 
use of aids. Intermediate riding calls for a change of leads with interrup- 
tion, advanced riding for a flying change of leads just one change. The 
difference of aims on these two levels is imposed in this case not by the 
limitations of a horse at the intermediate stage, but by those of the rider. 
A horse which can change leads with an interruption consisting of one 
stride of trot is five minutes away from a flying change, but his rider 
may not be. There is no new technique to learn, the aids remain exactly 
the same; but the time in which to switch them is shorter and the 
synchronization must be perfect. 

There is no use in saying that you should apply your aids for the 
change of leads a fraction of a second before the suspension period of the 
canter begins; thinking of it will merely make you stiff and you will lose 
the feel of the rhythm; it is all in the rhythm and you will acquire it 
only through practice. 

Having the horse on the bit when approaching an obstacle. This is the 
only difference in technique in jumping on the intermediate or the ad- 
vanced level. The difference is so negligible, as far as the rider is con- 
cerned, that it is almost theoretical. An ambitious horse approaching a 
fence will, of his own accord, increase the tension on the bit. On the other 
hand, when riding a sluggish horse, any sensible intermediate rider will 
urge the horse forward to the point when the tension is stronger than a 
soft contact; that is, if the horse doesn't jump at his best on loose reins. 

So then, where is the difference? The difference lies not in the tech- 
nique of riding but in the degree of schooling. In the case of an ad- 



ADVANCED CONTROL 217 

vanced horse, moving on the bit will mean connecting the hindquarters 
with the forehand, while an intermediate horse may increase the tension 
on the reins while continuing to gallop in a discombobulated manner. 

What I have said here applies only to single or very widely spaced 
obstacles; the technique of riding over courses is described later in this 
chapter. 

In summing up, I should like to underline the fact that the better ex- 
ecution of different movements in advanced riding does not depend on a 
special technique, but is merely due to the following points: 

1) The horse, being on the bit, is connected and has a highly de- 
veloped impulse forward. 

2) Through exercises which rapidly take the horse from extended to 
semi-collected gaits and vice versa, the horse's balance is developed to the 
point where he is master of his own body no matter what he does. 

3) Flexions soften all slow movements. 

4) A rider who has schooled the horse to the stage where he employs 
these three things has very good cooperation of his legs and hands with 
the efforts of the horse. Anything that he asks has a fine touch to it. 

Elsewhere in this book I have warned my readers against too rigidly 
accepting rules for the technique of riding and schooling horses, and I 
should like again to repeat this advice. 

Educated riding is a combination of science and art. Some people, with 
a tendency to be very academic in everything they do, judge riding, 
among other things, merely from the point of view of certain scholastic 
conditions, shuddering at anything that is irregular. Therefore these 
people are liable to see details only, and pronounce their judgment of 
the whole on the strength of these details. Some of these people, glancing 
at a rider will say: "He rides badly because he hasn't got a straight line 
of action from the elbow to the horse's mouth;" or: "He sits badly because 
he doesn't hold his legs far enough back;" and the fact the horse may be 
performing beautifully under his rider remains unexplained. These peo- 
ple may not even notice the latter, for they judge the whole performance 
on the fact that the rider's legs are not in an academically good position. 

I, personally, appreciating the scientific part of riding and devoting 
this book primarily to it, because it is the part which can be taught, am 
very much for individual artistic expression. If someone were to obtain 
a magnificent performance from his horse, neglecting most of the advice 
in this book, I would be the first one to appreciate it. Rules are not made 
for geniuses. The trouble is that the artistic part of riding does not allow 
itself to be analyzed or imitated; it is the property of an individual. And 
even if one is born with it, his natural talent will not manifest itself from 
the first day in the saddle, but only after education or long experience. 
One of the practical aspects of education is that it shortens the time of 
necessary experience. Therefore it seems sensible to start by learning the 



218 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

scientific part of riding; to stick to it if one has no special talent and to 
give a full expression to individualism when, in certain cases, art seems to 
be more powerful than knowledge. 

The big question is how one will recognize whether or not he is 
talented. There can, of course, be no definite rules in this respect; but as 
a leading thought, let me say the following: in any art, at the moment of 
production or creation, a real artist submerges his ego in his achievement; 
he forgets everything but what he is trying to do becomes that thing 
itself. The true artist identifies himself completely with his subject to 
the point of absolute self-forgetfulness. The Oriental artist realized and 
formulated this basic truth long before it occurred to the then less 
thoughtful, less sophisticated Westerner. Centuries ago, the Chinese 
painter maintained that to paint, for instance, a bamboo blowing in the 
wind, you must not only carefully observe all the outward appearances 
of the bamboo, you must also imagine you are a bamboo planted on a 
mountain-side and blowing in the wind; if you are painting a heron you 
must think yourself into that heron so that you feel and think as that 
heron does. Otherwise art is empty and dead, a mere recording of out- 
ward forms. Translating this into terms of riding, it means that while 
the rider remains exclusively interested in himself; that is, in how he 
looks in the saddle, in how he makes the horse take the jump, in how he 
holds his hands, he will remain a rider and only a rider not even an 
artistic one. In order to be a horseman he must forget himself, identify 
himself with the horse, feel that it is he, himself, who has changed leads 
at the canter or taken the jump; only then will there be that complete 
union and harmony which produces true art. 

Advanced control in jumping. I may as well begin by stating that ad- 
vanced control doesn't work miracles in the hunting field or over outside 
courses. Of course, the combination of an advanced horse and of an 
advanced rider will make a superior performance, no matter where; but 
the law of diminishing returns is also to be considered. 

The mechanics of the jump, the principles of jumping and the making 
of a jumper I have discussed in other chapters. Here we are merely con- 
cerned with the matter of riding the horse between fences. This subject 
is very controversial and I should like to present its different angles. 

Riding over courses. Throughout this book I have been calling my 
readers' attention to the fact that hunting and showing over easy jumping 
courses can be done very satisfactorily on the basis of intermediate riding, 
as the latter is defined in this book. As a matter of fact, the results would 
be not merely satisfactory but considerably above the present standards of 
our hunting and showing. But, in the majority, of cases, the intermediate 
level of riding will be insufficient for high and complicated open jump- 
ing classes or the international competitions, which are usually called 
military, although more and more civilians participate in them. There, 
in order to be a consistent winner, advanced riding is necessary. Why? 



ADVANCED CONTROL 219 

The ease with which a horse negotiates a series of obstacles depends on 
certain conditions of the course: 

1) Height and breadth of the fences. The greater the natural jumping 
abilities of the horse, the higher will be the limit of the obstacles he can 
be schooled to jump with ease and hence consistently. A 3'6" fence may 
always be a strenuous jump for one horse, while a 5' one might be com- 
paratively easy for another. But generalizing, it may be said that 3'9" to 
4' obstacles are easy for a big, strong hunter (even an unschooled one) 
while a 5 f fence requires a strenuous effort from almost any horse. This 
one foot of difference is really tremendous. The horse by his nature is 
not a high-jumping animal: I have discussed this in Chapter II. Ad- 
vanced schooling, which makes the horse more athletic in general, raises 
somewhat the height of his jump, 

2) The size of the jumping ground. If the fences are far apart, as in 
the majority of cases in the hunting field, and as on the outside courses 
in hunter classes or when very few jumps are set in a small arena, it is 
one thing. But when this small arena is packed with complicated obsta- 
cles, it is a different story. In the latter case the problem does not consist 
merely in jumping but in the very skilful way it will be necessary for the 
horse to handle himself between obstacles. He has very little space be- 
tween fences in which to re-establish a balanced gallop with correct im- 
pulse and the length of stride which will be required for the next fence. 
And, according to whether the obstacle ahead is broad or a high vertical 
one, his balance and pace will have to vary, while impulse is maintained. 
This alternation of broad with vertical obstacles, if they are really large, 
greatly increases the jumping difficulties, requiring constant changes in 
the manner of approach to a fence and in the way of jumping, itself* 
Obviously, in the hundreds of thousands of years of its wild existence, 
the horse never was faced with complicated courses. A fallen tree, or a 
brook here and there which could not be passed by, would be the most 
that he would have to negotiate on the prairies which he inhabited. His 
body developed accordingly. 

The physical education which the horse receives in advanced schooling 
enables him to face with confidence all the intricacies of complicated 
courses, particularly if he is ridden by a rider who has mastered the little 
finesses of advanced riding. 

3) The presence or absence of sharp turns. The problem of galloping 
the horse evenly over fences set against the wall of the arena is com- 
paratively easy. To change the pace often, because of turns, and still to 
have the right impulse at the take-off for a jump close after the turn, is a 
complicated matter for any horse. To be able to do it the horse has to 
be more than merely a good jumper and a good athlete; he has to be a 
highly specialized acrobat. Schooling, as presented in this book, takes 
your horse in this direction. 

4) The speed required. In hunter classes, merely a hunting pace is de- 



220 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

manded; you may vary it somewhat, depending on what pace is the most 
natural for your horse, and still make a winning performance. In inter- 
national competitions speed is often scored, the obstacles remaining 
formidable; and one has to face these conditions no matter whether one's 
horse's natural inclination is to jump from a fast or a slow gallop. 
Furthermore, the dexterity of the rider's legs and hands alone will not 
be able to keep the horse calm and soft when galloping fast; here 
schooling is all-important. 

5) The presence or absence of trappy combinations. When this book 
was originally written there was a vogue for so-called "jumpable" 
courses. A triple in-and-out, consisting of three identical vertical obsta- 
cles, equally spaced, to give the horse a comfortable stride between 
fences, would be a fair example of the latter. Lately (1962), however, 
"trappy" combinations seem to be in the air: an example of such would 
be a triple in-and-out in which the middle obstacle, for instance, would 
be a broad one, and the distances between fences would be unequal 
one too short and the other too long for a comfortable stride. It is 
obvious that in such situations, the rider, who by walking the course is 
able to figure out in advance the best way to negotiate it, has an advan- 
tage over the horse, who is faced with it only when he jumps it. This is 
an example of a case where my basic theory that the horse should be the 
more important member of the partnership does not fare too well. 

All in all, the difference between jumping in the hunting field or over 
outside courses, and jumping in a small arena crowded with complicated 
obstacles, is as great as the difference between a collected and a free, fast 
trot. These are both trots, but the efforts of the horse differ greatly in 
each case, as well as the techniques used by the rider to obtain these two 
manifestations of the same gait. A successful technique for jumping in 
classes of our military type has seldom anything to contribute to cross- 
country riding. This point is often missed and unfortunate attempts to 
imitate international winners are fairly common. 

If you were to visualize clearly how these different conditions of jump- 
ing competitions affect the horse, you would see that while the com- 
paratively passive riding of hunters can be made into a practical rule for 
everyone, in complicated and high open jumping classes this can only be 
an ideal within the reach of a few. If your horse is very able physically 
and mentally, has been schooled to a very high degree, and you are a 
very well-educated and naturally talented rider, then this ideal can be 
approached very closely. For instance, a number of members of the 
United States Army team have attained it during the past twenty years. 
To put it simply, they rode over international courses as if they were 
simple hunter courses. And it wasn't merely an exhibition of beautiful 
riding; their performances were winning ones. A thorough schooling of 
horses and riders was the backbone of the riding of our military team. 

On the other hand, if a horse has merely an unschooled jumping tal- 



ADVANCED CONTROL 221 

ent and the rider is merely a money winner with great experience and no 
education, then their performances over difficult courses will have to be 
based on constant forcible riding. For instance, if the horse is over-eager 
(a high jumper must be eager) and tries to approach an obstacle too fast 
for his own good, his rider cannot check his unschooled horse by merely 
somewhat increasing the tension on the reins. He has to pull really hard 
on the horse's mouth, which, of course, raises the neck, opens the mouth 
and caves in the back. Furthermore, if this checking has occurred far 
away from the jump, the rider usually cannot afford to give his horse 
freedom once he is slowed down. For the horse still has several strides in 
which to plunge forward, probably in a discornbobulated manner, and to 
plough through the obstacle. Consequently, the rider, with repeated 
checkings, holds the horse back to the last stride and only releases him 
when he feels that the line of the take-off has been established; then he 
has quickly to release the reins and strongly urge the horse with his legs. 
This technique is called "placing." The normal result is that, although 
a horse may jump high and clean, his efforts are seldom plastic or natu- 
ral, and the abuse of the horse from the rider's seat, hands and legs is 
ever-present. It is truly marvelous that there are some dozens of horses in 
this country whose character and physique are such that they can take 
this abuse and a moment afterwards walk quietly out of the arena on 
loose reins; furthermore, some stay sound for years. But don't forget that 
these are exceptions and don't expect your horse to be one: it is safer 
not to. 

Of late, I more and more often meet horse-show goers who are com- 
pletely disgusted with our open jumping classes and refuse to look at 
them any more. I think that in their wholesale condemnation they go 
overboard and miss the pleasure of seeing a couple of truly good per- 
formances in every class, at least in big shows. Furthermore, there are 
some riders in these classes, very few to be sure, who, year in and year out, 
win ribbons on unschooled horses, some of which would simply run away 
with average riders on their backs. In spite of the ugliness of their un- 
educated riding; in spite of the ugliness of the performance of their 
horses; in spite of the fact that these riders do nothing, or little, which 
I recommend in this book, one has to admit that they have something. 
And this something is not experience alone, for, while a few are good, 
many others remain a mess forever. So it is not merely experience; it is 
talent also. It is the kind of talent of which I spoke earlier in this 
chapter, and one can only be sorry that the business considerations of 
these riders* professional lives do not allow them time to school their 
horses. I have run into so much of it in my own practice. So many 
people who possessed able horses were willing to give me no more than 
two or three months to get them ready for showing; fortunately I could 
decline these cases; some cannot. 

But while most of these professional riders have commercial excuses 



222 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

for their rough riding (I hope that they are looking for an excuse), some 
of the members of the international teams ride almost as roughly, and 
have none. They have plenty of time to concentrate on schooling their 
horses and on developing the finesse of their own technique and they, 
presumably, have the advantage of a good equestrian education. While 
some people are over-critical of their roughness, others, impressed by 
their victories, try to imitate them. I think, in both cases, there is a loss 
of balance. 

One can hardly ride over complicated courses at an even pace. Some- 
times a short stride is necessary before a high vertical fence, while a fast 
gallop with increased impulse may be required for a broad obstacle; and 
the fast pace will have to be slowed down considerably for making a 
sharp turn. This all means that the rider has to assist his horse by 
changing his pace, while maintaining the impulse: if this is done far 
away from the jump and the horse allowed to go free, once the necessary 
pace has been established, it is called "rating/' Its success depends as 
much on the technique of the rider as on the degree of schooling which 
the horse has reached. Besides being cooperative and calm, the horse 
must have highly developed impulse forward and be equally developed 
in ''coming back;" in other words, he must be very flexible longitudi- 
nally. Only if this longitudinal flexibility is present will the horse be able 
to decrease and increase his stride, almost on a dime, at the rider's will. 
Furthermore, the horse must be obedient and cool in order to maintain 
the new pace from the point of rating to the obstacle. 

But what if the horse is not obedient? What if a couple of strides after 
being rated he should need another rating, and then another; so that 
there may be only one stride left between the last rating and the take-off? 
Then you have nothing else but "placing;" so it seems to me there is a 
definite relationship between rating and placing; and the difference is 
mainly the result of the degree of schooling, although it may also depend 
upon the principle on which the horse is schooled. 

The principles of free, natural jumping successfully applied to a 
schooled horse will manifest themselves as follows: 

a) Some clever horses will learn to rate themselves (the rider being 
passive) in the hunting field or over easy courses. Other horses (in these 
two sports) will require minimal assistance from the rider. 

b) On complicated courses all that will be necessary will be a couple 
of mild checkings far away from the obstacle, after which the horse may 
be allowed to go free during the rest of the approach. This, of course, in 
the case of a horse which has attempted to approach an obstacle too fast. 

If, on the other hand, the horse is approaching a fence too sluggishly, 
then the rider will be able, with strong use of the legs, quickly to give 
the necessary impulse, while yet far away from the fence, and then 
merely to sustain it until the jump. Or he may gradually develop the 



ADVANCED CONTROL 223 

correct impulse, by progressive squeezing during the last half dozen 
strides of the approach. 

Speaking of "rating" Colonel H. Chamberlin in his book TRAINING 
HUNTERS, JUMPERS AND HACKS (English edit. 1946, page 133) says: 

"The most pleasant characteristic of an excellent hunter or jumper is 
his willingness to be rated. If trained for a year or more according to 
preceding chapters before he is called upon to hunt a difficult country, 
or to jump a full-sized course of imposing obstacles, rating will be 
possible. . . . The numerous frenzied and uncontrollable horses seen in 
the hunting field and show ring are a sad commentary on their trainers." 

So, all in all, a good performance depends, of course, mainly on school- 
ing; this cannot be argued. But the principle of free-going to which I 
fully subscribe (for to me it is the most pleasant to ride, to watch, and 
obviously is the least abusive to the horse), is not necessarily the only 
possible principle on which a jumper can be schooled to win. 

In the late forties the Mexican Army team has gained a top position 
among international winners, riding and schooling their horses on prin- 
ciples completely different from those which I teach. And, by the. way, 
there are few things as diametrically opposed to each other as the reason- 
ing behind the schooling of jumpers by the cavalry school at Fort Riley 
and the logic behind the Mexican way. 

The fundamental idea of the former is thus expressed in the Fort 
Riley manual (Edit. 1945, part II, page 233): 

"... The main and most difficult task of the trainer when riding over 
an obstacle is to let the horse alone/ . . . 

"Too often riders believe that they are assisting their horses over 
obstacles by using their hands and legs in various ways other than those 
to be described. The idea that one can 'place* his horse for each jump 
over a course of big and imposing obstacles is erroneous. Many really 
brilliant riders have tried It, but without complete success. The horse 
must do the jumping and the less he is bothered, except to encourage 
and rate him, the better he will do." 

This, in its essentials, is what I teach; but the statement that a horse 
cannot be successfully placed time after time was proved wrong by four 
years of Mexican victories. The Mexican riders approach the jump at a 
slow (sometimes collected) gallop a Iways full of impulse obtained 
through a series of strong urgings forward combined with as strong 
checkings. About one stride before the jump (sometimes earlier) the 
Mexicans, with truly artistic precision, release the coiled body-springs 
of their horses. Thus their horses go over vertical fences with a very 
steep trajectory and do it efficiently, helped by great acrobatism de- 
veloped in general schooling as well as over fences. 

In spite of the consistency of the Mexican winning, and my personal 
admiration for the skill of the riders, I am all for the Fort Riley method, 
although I may disagree with some details of it or with some explana- 



224 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

tions they give for it. On the other hand, the reasoning of the Mexicans 
as applied to international competitions, particularly in small arenas like 
Madison Square Garden, is clear to me. They are not the first to have 
used it successfully; some of the French, Germans, as well as riders of 
other nations, have applied it with good results in the past. I, myself, 
was brought up on the idea that the horse must be led, "between the 
legs and hands" up to the moment of the take-off and that the last three 
strides of the approach must be particularly controlled. This principle 
is as old as the hills. It is not this idea, but a superb execution of it that 
is impressive in the case of the Mexicans. 

But weren't the free-going performances of the United States Army 
team in the thirties, when the riders were first led by Colonel H. Cham- 
berlin and later strongly dominated by his ideas, as impressive? And do 
you remember how consistently successful the Germans were about 
fifteen years ago, using yet another method? I have already mentioned 
the fact that in my lifetime I have witnessed the rise and fall of half a 
dozen methods of jumping in horse shows, and, in my opinion, in every 
case the marvels worked by a certain system could be largely attributed to 
a fortunate combination of riders and horses directed by an outstanding 
horseman. One brilliant exponent of a method has seldom been im- 
mediately succeeded by another as brilliant; hence the success of methods 
fluctuates. Remembering all this, it is rather difficult to be impressed by 
mere victory, while it is easy for me, anyway to be enthusiastic about 
a method which results in natural, plastically beautiful performances 
which do not abuse the horse. I have no doubt that the majority of real 
horse lovers will join me in my feelings. But, all of us being different, 
many, of course, will disagree with my point of view. Among the latter 
will be those who merely like the spectacular and violent, and who just 
want to see horses tackling mammoth obstacles, no matter how. 

While some of what I have just said ^vas included here merely to 
broaden your horizons, the following paragraphs are for your daily 
reference: 

1) Don't lose perspective and don't confuse the technique of riding in 
international competitions with the jumping that you will do in the 
hunting field or in amateur shows. By no means try to imitate the former, 
for it is based on a lifetime spent in the saddle, plus inborn talent, often 
a thorough equestrian education and exceptionally able horses. Further- 
more, you cannot possibly get to the bottom of an international rider's 
technique (I am talking about a good one) by merely looking at him 
performing. Of course you will see some obvious disconnected points of 
it, but not the subtle connecting links. If you are interested in it, you 
have to study it; it will take you a long time and it may be worthwhile; 
but just mimicking it will result in the same mess that you may observe 
in every show displayed by riders who have fallen into this very pit. 



ADVANCED CONTROL 225 

2) The difference between riding courses on the intermediate and ad- 
vanced levels consists in the following facts: 

a) an advanced horse is more supple in actual jumping as well as dur- 
ing the approach and hence, if necessary, can be handled with 
greater precision during the latter; 

b) an advanced rider, having better developed cooperation of legs and 
hands with the horses's efforts, can lead an advanced horse toward 
the obstacle with greater finesse than an intermediate rider could 
do on an intermediate horse. 

3) Whether you are an intermediate or an advanced rider all your 
hopes should be placed on schooling and not on the last-minute dexterity 
of your legs and hands. It is only when you feel that the horse needs as- 
sistance that you should help him with your aids. On the other hand, I 
do not preach complete passiveness. Quite often, on the strength of 
having cleared a few jumps passively, the rider continues to be inactive 
on later fences, on which the horse does require correction; the result is 
knocked-down obstacles. Ride as passively as practical and at times as 
actively as the circumstances may require. 



CHAPTER XIII 

Modernizing the Ideal 

The equestrian events of the Olympic Games consist of three classes: 

1) DRESSAGE, which is a competition in almost the highest achievements 
in classical riding: "Grosse Dressurpriifung," as the Germans call It. 

2) PRIX DES NATIONS arena jumping. 

3) THE THREE-DAY EVENT, which is an all-around test for a cross-country 
horse. This test consists of the following three phases: 

a) First Day: Schooling Test. In an arena 195 feet by 65 feet, 
marked with letters to point out the changes in movements. Time 
limit 12 min. 

b) The Second Day's Test is divided into these continuous phases: 
A-Phase 4 miles on roads and trails. Time allowed 27 min., 17 

sec. Penalty assessed for overtime. Rate, 8 m.p.h. 
B-Phase 2.3 miles over Steeplechase Course with 10 to 12 jumps. 
Time allowed, 5 min. 5 sec. Penalty assessed for over- 
time, bonus given for under time. Rate 24 m.p.h. 
C-Phase 10 miles on roads and trails. Time allowed 68 min. 11 

sec. Penalty assessed for overtime. Rate 8 m.p.h. 
D-Phase 5% miles Cross-Country with 30 to 35 varied obstacles 
at and ditches with width of 13'. Time allowed, 18 
min. Penalty assessed for overtime and bonus given for 
under time. Rate, 18.7 m.p.h. 

E-Phase 0.6 miles on the flat. Time allowed, 3 min. Penalty as- 
sessed for overtime. Rate 13 m.p.h. 

The total distance is 22.3 miles. The total time allowed is 2 hours, 
I min., 18 sec Average rate horse must go is 11 miles 
per hour, or,a fair gallop for the entire 22.3 miles. He 
must be in condition for the Jumping Test next day. 
. c) The Third Day Jumping Test. This is held in a stadium. The 
course is about 0.8 miles, with twelve varied obstacles not higher 
than 4'. A water jump 12' in width is included. Rate of speed, 
433 yards per minute. Penalty assessed for overtime. 

These conditions vary somewhat from one set of Olympic Games 
to another. 

226 



MODERNIZING THE IDEAL 227 

You may remember that In previous chapters I have pointed out the 
Three-Day Event as a possible ideal for an ambitious American amateur 
rider. This chapter is devoted to the discussion of this ideal. As you see, 
The Third Day is simple enough and I don't expect anybody to object 
that it is too much for a non-professional rider. The Second Day may be 
much too strenuous for many and require so much conditioning that, 
in its unabridged form, it may be considered impractical for amateurs. But 
it is very easy to modify this. For instance: the steeplechase can be cut out; 
the distance of the cross-country run can be reduced; the number of jumps 
cut down, their height lowered somewhat, etc., and still one would be left 
with an excellent test for a hunter. My personal objections revolve mostly 
around the Schooling Test which, in my opinion, over-emphasizes col- 
lected gaits and slights the "ordinary" ones, which a hunter will actually 
use. To understand how such a program was conceived we have to go 
back at least to the beginning of this century. 

Fifty years ago continental Europe still had several large militaristic 
states with huge standing armies; a sizable part of each army was the 
cavalry which was still, on occasions, nostalgically referred to as the 
"Queen of the Battlefields." When one takes into consideration the fact 
that, traditionally, the officers' corps, particularly of the cavalry, was to 
a considerable extent drawn from members of the privileged class, then it 
becomes obvious that all the European equestrian competitions, including 
the Olympic Games, were bound to be dominated by military thinking. 
The first riding competition in the Olympics took place in Sweden in 1912. 
Two classes out of three were conceived for officers' chargers; these classes 
were the "Individual Dressage" and the "Military," which is now known 
as the "Three-Day Event." The third class was, as it is today, the "Prix 
Des Nations" arena jumping, which represented not the business but 
the sport of the cavalry. As long as the "Individual Dressage" and the 
"Military" classes were designed primarily for cavalry officers, it was quite 
appropriate that the Emperors of Germany and of Austria-Hungary 
should present the challenge cups. There wasn't a single civilian among 
the competitors. 

Those were the last days of the old-fashioned armies and the cavalry 
was still expected to charge in closed formation or to file by in brilliant 
parades, resplendently dressed and at smart collected gaits. For all these 
closed-formation maneuvres, with their quick, precise swinging around of 
the flanks, turning in small areas etc., collected gaits were essential. But 
all this was just a part of what the cavalry should have been able to do. 
Besides an easy maneuverability in thick columns, it should possess en- 
durance to withstand long marches, speed for certain occasions and jump- 
ing ability, which may sometimes be useful. In my youth these latter re- 
quirements were beginning to predominate and quite often, on parades, 
we passed the reviewing general at full gallop with lances lowered as in 
a charge. But even then, to be able to restore quickly the precision of 



228 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

formation at suddenly diminished speed, at the end of the parade grounds, 
collection was necessary. All these requirements were combined, in the 
Russian army anyway (it was probably the same in other countries) in a 
competition which, in our case, was cumbersomely called "The test for 
an officer's horse actually used in cavalry ranks/' It included an endurance 
test, a steeplechase, arena jumping and a training test; the whole thing 
lasted three days. In its conditions this test was very similar to the "Mili- 
tary" Class of the 1912 Olympics, which, in a revised form, is familiarly 
known to us as the Three-Day Event. 

Then what was the Individual Dressage class? It was also a competition 
for officers' chargers, but more of a parade type. In its aims it was on the 
ambitious side and it gave an officer the opportunity of showing what he 
had done with his horse in his spare time. The chronicleF of the Olympic 
Games, Dr. Gustav Rau, in his book, DIE REITERKAMPFE BEI DEN OLYM- 
PISCHEN SPIELEN (pub. 1929), on page 29, says about the Individual Dres- 
sage in Sweden: 

"The conditions require nothing more than would be required of a 
well-ridden officer's charger. For one saw in the competition many well- 
ridden horses, but on the other hand no horse whose performance could 
be called an Event, no horse which moved with the complete submission 
and in the perfection of a really schooled horse, absolutely light in the 
hands and legs of the rider, always in the best position, collected, with 
arched neck, with highest cadence and greatest lightness. One saw also 
no rider who was a completely accomplished technician . . ." (the trans- 
lation is mine). 

Although the class was open for civilians, only officers actually took part 
in it. The competitors were not members of highly specialized army horse 
show teams; neither in Russia nor anywhere else, I believe, was there a 
group of officers taken out of the regiments and assembled eighteen 
months or so before a competition exclusively for the work of preparing 
themselves and their horses for an international tournament. In those 
days in Russia, a month or so before an international event the army 
would hold trials among officers active in their regiments; the best of these 
would be sent abroad. This is why the Individual Dressage didn't exhibit 
the highest standards of riding, although the conditions of the class were 
rather simple. Such movements as Piaffe, Passage, Change of Leads in two 
or one tempos, which in Berlin in 1936 were a part of the program, were 
not required; on the other hand, the program included five jumps all 
lower than 3'6" and an obedience test during which the horse should be 
made to walk past objects at which he had previously shied. Each nation 
was permitted to enter six individual competitors who did not form a 
team, and received prizes individually; hence the class was called Individ- 
ual Dressage. In the Games of 1912, for instance, Sweden entered six 
riders, while Russia was represented by only one. 

Beginning with the Games of 1920 this program underwent consider- 



MODERNIZING THE IDEAL 229 

able change, finally becoming a class for everything that may be required 
of a manege horse, short of going into real High School, while jumping 
and the obedience test were dropped. Thus the class became far above the 
possibilities of a regular officer active in the ranks of cavalry regiments; it 
became a class for specialists in classical riding who could devote almost 
all of their time to this art. And in the Games of 1928 in Amsterdam this 
class was won by a civilian, Baron von Langen (Germany). In that year, 
for the first time, team prizes, as well as individual, were given. 

In the Games of 1912 (as well as of today) there was another Dressage 
class which was a part of the competition called "Military." The manner 
in which the conditions of the class were described supports my thesis. In 
all the manuals on the Olympic Games, it is merely said that the latter 
test is the same as the Individual Dressage, excluding the figure of eight, 
with or without changes of leads, flying changes of leads, jumping and 
obedience test; the jumping, of course, was taken care of during the cross- 
country and arena jumping phases. In other words, there was a relation- 
ship between the two classes, both representing the same ideals, but one 
being more elementary than the other. The accent, of course, was on collec- 
tion. For armies which still paraded at slow paces, in tight ranks and 
expected to charge in the same manner in war, precise, collected gaits 
were of practical importance. 

Very soon after the beginning of the first World War, we, in the then 
very active Russian cavalry, understood that there was no place any more 
for slow gaits, for parade-like charges and, discarding our curbs, we ex- 
tended the strides of our horses. The aims of the dressage of the Military 
Class ceased to make much sense to us after the first mounted charge 
against machine guns. 

Now, with the abolition of horse cavalry in this country, which unques- 
tionably will be followed by the rest of the world, it would seem that 
riding in the Olympic Games should completely lose its military 
aspect and become a competition in civilian types of riding. Since the 
latter differ from the military, some of the conditions of the classes in 
question should be changed. For instance, from the point of view of a 
lieutenant commanding a platoon in a parade in 1900, it was of the utmost 
importance to have a horse schooled to stop on a dime, to gallop at times 
practically in place, and so forth; if his horse were unable to do all this, 
he would not be able to keep his proper place in the formation with the 
precision of a wooden soldier. Today's counterpart of this officer is a young 
man or woman who hunts or jumps in shows and to whom all the above 
requirements are absolutely unnecessary, while they have their own ideals 
for which to strive. From their practical point of view the program of the 
Dressage test of the Three-Day Event, in spite of all the modifications it 
has undergone in the fifty years of its existence, still preserves too many 
essentials of the past. It seems to me, that for the up-to-date amateur rider, 



230 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

In the United States anyway, the development of fast, free gaits in a 
hunter or jumper and the easy maneuverability at these free gaits, is much 
more important than the ability to make a small circle at a collected gait. 
I know that some will not share my tendency to relegate collection to sec- 
ond place; hence I think I should further explain my stand. 

The word collection is often very loosely used; you hear people say that 
they collect their horses before the jump or in a trappy situation in the 
hunting field, etc. One in a thousand of those who use this word so easily, 
really collects his horse. The best of the rest merely refer to the ability 
of their horses to change their balance by gathering themselves, which is 
known as "coming back" and which requires only a simple technique on 
the part of the rider. The majority think that they collect their horses 
when they slow them down by a strong pull on the reins, which arches 
the neck stiffly and often forces the resistant mouth open. To remind you 
of what truly collected gaits are, here is a quotation from the rules of the 
Olympic Games: 

"Collected Walk: The horse should move resolutely forward with his 
neck raised and arched. The head approaches the vertical position. The 
hind legs are engaged, i.e. brought well forward under the body. The pace 
remains a Walk with the normal succession of beats. The collected walk 
is slightly slower than the ordinary walk, each step covering less ground 
but being more elevated owing to the fact that the joints are more bent. 
The mobility is, therefore, greater without the steps being hurried. 

"Collected Trot: The neck should be raised permitting the shoulders 
to move with greater ease in all directions, the hind legs being well en- 
gaged and maintaining the energetic impulsion notwithstanding the 
slower movement. The steps of the horse are shorter but he is more mobile 
and lighter. [About the term engagement see page 154.] 

"Collected Canter: The horse's shoulders, being unconstrained, should 
be free and mobile and his haunches should be active and vibrant. The 
muscles should be more relaxed without the impulsion being diminished." 

I hope you realize that the putting into practice of these wonderful 
words "greater mobility without the steps being hurried;" "shoulders 
moving with greater ease in all directions;" "the active and vibrant 
haunches," etc. could be accomplished only by a highly schooled rider 
riding a highly schooled horse. But I wonder how many of these perfect 
teams will be able to do all this in the excitement of the hunting field or 
during a gallop between obstacles at a horse show; and you will have to 
argue hard to prove that it is necessary for cross-country riding and jump- 
ing. On the other hand, as I have already pointed out, some of it is an 
excellent gymnastic in the schooling of a hunter or a jumper, providing 
it is not over-emphasized. Hence the presence of collected gaits in this 
schooling test is absolutely logical; it is their quantity with which I cannot 
agree. 



MODERNIZING THE IDEAL 



231 



H- 



8 C 



O 

*> 



* 



ENTRANCE 
* 20 >> 

METRES 
Pic. 77 

Now, keeping the above definitions in rnind, glance through the pro- 
gram of the schooling test of the Three-Day Event as it was in England 
in 1948. 

Here is this program: 

Enter at the canter. 

1. At G Halt. Immobility of horse. Salute, move on at ordinary walk. 

2. At C Track to the right. 
M to K Change directions. 

3. At K Collected walk. 

4. At A Turn down centre. 

D B G Counter change of hand on two tracks. 

5. AtG Ordinary trot (posting). 

6. At G Track to the left. 



232 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

F H M Change of directions at utmost extended trot (posting) . 

M to K Ordinary trot (sitting). 

K M H Change of directions at utmost extended trot (posting). 

7. H to A Collected trot sitting. 

8. At A Turn down center. 

D E G Counter change of hand on two tracks. 

9. At C Track to the right. 

At B Halt. Back 4 paces. Move on at Collected trot (sitting). 

10. At E Small circle 6 metres diameter at collected trot. 

11. At S Collected canter (O.F. leading). 

12. At B Small circle 6 metres diameter at collected canter. 

Returning to B, collected trot. 

13. At A Ordinary canter (O.F. leading). 

14. E C F Extended canter. 

15. At F Collected canter. 

16. At A Turn down center. 

At X Collected trot (sitting). 

At C Track to the left. 

17. At E Small circle 6 metres diameter at collected trot. 

18. Returning to E. Collected canter (N.F. leading). 

19. At B Small circle 6 metres diameter at collected canter. 

Returning to B, collected trot. 

20. At C Ordinary canter (N.F. leading), 

21. H E K F Extended canter. 

22. At F Collected canter. 

23. At B Turn left to X. 

At X Halt. Move on at ordinary canter (O.F. leading). 

24. At E Track to the right. 

At C Halt. Back 4 paces. Collected canter (O.F. leading). 

25. M to X Two tracks right. 

26. At X Straight forward on center line. 
At D Collected trot. 

At A Track to the left. 

At F Collected canter (N.F. leading). 

27. B to G Two tracks left. 

At G Straight forward on centre line. 

28. At C Track to the left. 
At H Ordinary walk. 

H X F Extended walk (utmost extension). 

At F Collected walk. 

At A Turn down centre. 

29. At G Halt. Immobility of horse. Salute, leave the arena at the walk. 

If you were to do the very boring job which I have just finished, that 
is, of tracing this program on the map of the arena and counting the 
relative distances covered by collected, extended and ordinary gaits, you 
would find out that the ratio between collected and ordinary gaits is al- 
most three to one. When you think that this is the test for the work 
which is part of the training of a cross-country horse, It simply doesn't 



MODERNIZING THE IDEAL 233 

seem to make sense. Perhaps this Is where one can find the explanation 
of a surprising remark made to me by one of the contestants a few days 
before the competition "I have no doubt about the performance of my 
horse in the cross-country test, but he does the schooling movements rather 
poorly." In one of the Olympic Trials at Badminton in England a number 
of riders who placed poorly in the schooling test made cross-country per- 
formances of high quality, while others did just the reverse. For instance, 
one English rider placed 27th in the dressage and 5th in the cross-country 
performance, another correspondingly moved from 35th to 17th place, 
etc. If such cases are possible, it would seem to mean that this type of 
schooling is not essential, that it doesn't do its part in preparing horses for 
the field and that it is a superimposed structure. 

Before the Olympic Games in Berlin in 1936, the Italians succeeded 
in persuading the International Equestrian Federation to make some 
modifications in the rules governing the schooling test of the Three-Day 
Event, namely (here I quote Captain Piero Santini, who stated these 
modifications in his book, THE FORWARD IMPULSE, on page 25): 

"1) The suppression of the collected gaits, and the resulting acceptance 
of the forward balance, which logically results in 

"2) The substitution of the expressions 'pas ralenti/ 'trot ralenti* and 
'gallop ralenti/ which imply only a diminution of speed (and no 
high action or change in the horse's natural balance), for 'pas 
rassemble,' 'trot rassemble* and 'gallop rassemble* ('^assemble' 
meaning collected), which involve high action and balance on the 
quarters. 

"3) The suppression of all direct passing to the trot and gallop from the 
halt, in favour of progressive transition from the halt to the walk, 
from the latter to the trot and from the trot to the gallop." 

It seems that this agreement was not very definite and was arrived at 
against the opinion of some nations, for in the German Program of the 
Games the word "collection" was retained; neither were the Italian sug- 
gestions listed in the Program of 1948. 

There is a practical limit to the use of collected gaits when training 
a cross-country horse. Too much collection may have evil effects on the 
efficiency of travelling gaits (particularly in the case of a semi-schooled 
rider), which, after all, are the gaits which a hunter or a jumper will use 
the most. If worked too much at collected gaits, a horse may begin to 
lose the length and flatness of the stride and, instead of using all his 
energy to cover ground, his action may begin to acquire a certain unde- 
sirable height, which is sheer waste of energy. 

All these theoretical considerations lead me to the following practical 
suggestions; 



234 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

a) If you expect to participate in the Olympic Games or official horse 
trials, then don't argue but prepare your horse for what is required. 

b) If, on the other hand, you use this program merely as an ideal which 
you hope to reach with your horse, then the schooling test should be 
modernized in the following ways: 



1) Replace at least half of the collected periods with ordinary gaits. 

2) Don't strive for full collection, but for semi-collection. 

3) You do not have to collect your horse when you do two tracks; 
a free two tracks with long ordinary strides is a more beneficial 
exercise for a cross-country horse and a jumper than a collected two 
tracks. 

4) Retain one small circle at a semi-collected trot and one at a semi- 
collected gallop in your program but also make larger circles at an 
ordinary trot and canter, just as you would turn in the field. 

5) Don't do any backing from collected gaits, but show how your horse 
halts from ordinary gaits, backs and resumes the original movement. 
In this way (particularly at a canter) backing develops coming back 
and is an important exercise for hunters and jumpers. 

6) Retain a couple of diagonal changes of direction across the arena at 
an extended trot (semi-extended, to be exact). But also show how 
your horse makes the transitions from a slow trot (not a collected 
one) to an ordinary and then to a fast one (not extended) and back 
to the ordinary and to the slow. This is a fundamental exercise for 
the development of the longitudinal flexibility of the horse's body. 
Do the same at the canter. 

In the extended trot the great impulse of the hindquarters, being 
somewhat checked by the rider's hands, results in the full extension 
of the forelegs, while the speed is not necessarily fast. A fast trot is 
a flatter, quieter movement; it is just a fast trot with long strides. It 
is the counterpart of a slow trot which is a slow, quiet trot, with short, 
flattish strides. Both extended and collected trots, being extremely 
animated, are not quiet movements which one would use cross- 
country. 

7) Introduce in your program a counter gallop, which means turning 
or circling, for instance, to the left on a wide arc while galloping on 
the right, lead. This is a wonderful balancing gymnastic. I know 
several very successful trainers of jumpers who would drop, if forced 
to, all other exercises but would keep this one. 

8) Introduce into your program about three jumps to be taken as part 



MODERNIZING THE IDEAL 255 

of the routine of gaits and movements. One obstacle to be taken at 
a trot, one at a canter and one as in a handy hunter class, that is: 
approach the jump at a walk; from the saddle remove the upper bar 
of the fence, withdraw about 25 feet, then take the fence. Neither 
the cross-country nor the arena jumping phases will enable you to 
show how pleasantly obedient and quiet your horse is approaching 
the fence and going away from it. 

9) During the latter part of your ring schooling it would be a good idea 
to lay out your arena on not absolutely level ground; your hunter 
will rarely be working in perfect conditions. A very gradual slope 
somewhere in your arena will tell much more about the balance of 
your horse than all the collected gaits put together. 

You do not have to construct such an arena; just choose a suit- 
able ground, measure it and mark it with letters. (In 1962 I 
recommend an oval arena 125' x 250'.) 

At first I planned to end this chapter by giving a sample table of a 
modernized test for schooling. And then I decided against it, for I am 
afraid that some of my readers may take it rigidly as the only possible 
form of the ideal. This rigidity, in riding anyway, I wish by all means to 
avoid. It's the spirit of schooling rather than pedantic rules which I would 
like to stress in this book. In the chapter on schooling you will find a 
description of all the movements which may enter into the composition of 
such a program. Dozens of such programs, long and short ones, all varying 
from each other, can be made and your understanding of schooling will 
benefit greatly if you try your hand at making up a couple of them your- 
self. Try them out. And, if you do, then, I am quite certain that my 
criticisms of the Olympic Games program will make more sense to you. 

It is reasonable to assume that many of my readers who have read this 
book thus far would come to the conclusion that I hold a grudge against 
Dressage. Those who think so would be mistaken; I am very fond of 
Dressage as an exhibition of the supreme form of classical manege riding. 
I have not had the leisure to become really proficient at it myself but 
still, even here in the United States, 1 once schooled a horse to a rather 
high degree, have played with a couple of others and would go out of my 
way to witness a good Dressage performance. As a matter of fact, it is 
the Dressage class above all other classes of the Olympic Games in. Berlin 
in 1936 which stands out in my memory. But, admiring it, I know its 
limitations and fail to see what the possible connection can be between 
it and cross-country riding. 

This year, in Madison Square Garden, the Spanish Riding School of 
Vienna gave an exhibition. I watched them with great interest, several 
times at the show, as well as in practice before the opening, and tried to 
pick up something in the technique of the riders or in the movements of 
the horses which would be of value to my work. Unfortunately there was 



256 GOMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

nothing. But I know of at least two riding teachers (I am certain they 
were not alone) who took their pupils to watch the performance which 
they considered (aside from the different jumps in the air) as perfect 
basic training for any type of riding. I cannot see it in this light at all and 
when I heard the following story about the White Horses it seemed to 
me to epitomize all that I felt about the anachronism of their perform- 
ance. It seems that the rather limited Horse Show orchestra was asked to 
play a Bizet composition arranged for an eighty-six piece orchestra 
because the Lipizzan stallions could not perform at their best to any but 
old-world airs. 

Granting some exaggeration to the story, I understand that Colonel 
Alois Podhajsky (head of the Spanish Riding School of Vienna) desiring 
to have everything perfect, merely wanted to have music which was par- 
ticularly appropriate to the movements of his program; his horses, of 
course, would perform disregarding the tune played. But just the same, 
the fact that there was a careful selection of music makes the whole thing 
very remote from a foggy morning in the hunting field. 

While the ideals suggested thus far in this chapter and set down 
twelve years ago are still practical for many riders, I find that my own 
ideal has become a further modification of them; hence this additional 
text. 

THE COMPLETE TEST FOR HUNTERS 

I rarely have occasion today (in 1962) to use semi-collection in my 
teaching, because it usually seems quite unnecessary. Practically all my 
better pupils (human as well as equine), even outstanding winners in 
important shows, are consistently successful without using it performing 
exclusively on the principle of free going. And the conditions of modern 
life are such as to confirm the practicality, for the usual rider who shows 
or hunts, of training his mount according to the unadorned Italian 
method of schooling a field horse. 

In spite of this situation, I still feel that semi-collection as a part of 
schooling on the advanced level should be retained in the book, if only 
to remind the ambitious horseman with extra time to spare that there is 
such a thing. On the other hand, I now believe that natural calm gaits 
should perhaps be stressed even more than they were in the original text. 
I came to this practical conclusion several years ago, and already in 1956 
proposed to change the formula of the Three-Day-Event still more 
radically than I had in the first part of this chapter. Eventually some of 
my pupils and I worked out a new substitute formula, which we 
originally called the Complete Test for Hunters. 

While the Complete Test was at first designed with the hunter in 
mind, non-hunting communities can adapt its conditions to prove the 
versatility and pleasantness of a horse which may be primarily a jumper; 
riding departments in boarding schools and colleges, and commercial 



MODERNIZING THE IDEAL 237 

riding schools can put on a Complete Test for Riders with phases 
planned and judged to test the rider's rather than the horse's skill and 
efficiency in different situations; the phases of the test can also be 
adapted to a Complete Test for Junior Horses, which play the various 
roles as country hack, hunter, jumper or horsemanship horse. All these 
variants of the Complete Test have been successfully tried. 

Judging of the Complete Test should not be by a mechanical count 
of points, but the horses should be judged on the same principle on 
which working hunters are judged, while the judging of riders should 
follow the pattern of judging in horsemanship classes. Otherwise the 
result may be similar to what happens frequently today in recognized 
Horse Trials where the second phase is apt to take the form of simply 
open jumping across country and as such contributes nothing to better- 
ing riding standards. 

The Complete Test consists of three (or four) phases: 

1) Program Ride (a combination of schooling exercises) 

2) Cross Country (a hunter trial type course) 

3) Working Hunter Horse Show class (as found in better shows). 

To these three phases a fourth should be added in the case of testing a 
hunter. This is: 

4) Group phase with hounds (as found in the hunting field). 

For detailed description of how to conduct such a test I would like to 
refer to a booklet, The Complete Test for Hunters, written by Mrs. 
Robert E. Cater III, M.F.H., Groton Hunt. 

The Description of THE COMPLETE TEST FOR HUNTERS 

ON INTERMEDIATE LEVEL 
THE FIRST PHASE THE PROGRAM RIDE 

The first phase of this competition, The Program Ride, is so different 
from the Dressage test of the Three Day Event that I would like to 
include here one of the many possible variations of it, as an example of 
the spirit in which I believe such programs should be conceived. 

Here is a sample of a program ride, conceived for the intermediate 
level: 

Enter at A at an ordinary trot; trot on the middle line through X to C. 
at C track to the left and continue ordinary trot (around the arena) to B. 
at B make a gradual halt and then execute a half-turn on the haunches; 

resume the ordinary trot and trot to E. 
at E make a large half-circle (45' in diameter) maintaining the speed of 

8 m.p.h.; trot to A. 
at A make a gradual halt and back four steps; resume ordinary trot; trot 

to G. 

at G fast trot to C (preferably lengthening the strides and not merely 
increasing their frequency; however, it should not be the extended 
trot of dressage). 



238 



COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 



at C ordinary trot to H. 

at H slow trot to K (as slow as you can make it without collection). 

at K ordinary trot to G. 

at G change directions across the arena to H, negotiating obstacles 1 8c 2 

at a trot. 

at H continue ordinary trot to C. 
at C gradually start an ordinary canter and canter (around the arena) 

to E. 
at E a large half-circle (about 65' in diameter) change leads when nearing 

the wall (flying or with an interruption of the gait) ; continue canter 

to B. 
at B slow canter (as slow as you can make it without collecting the horse) 

to C. 

at C resume ordinary canter; canter to H. 
at H continue canter diagonally across the arena to G, negotiating 

obstacles 2 & 1. 
at G continue ordinary canter to K and, if the horse is on the outside 

lead, then change leads (flying or with an interruption of the canter) 

somewhere near A. 
at K gallop (about 1$ m.p.h.) to B. 
at B ordinary canter to A. 
at A ordinary trot to K. 
at K make a gradual halt; back four steps and walk forward on loose 

reins, to prove that your horse is still calm; walk to H. 
at H pick up your reins; walk to C "on contact." 
at C halt; make a half-turn on the haunches, then resume the walk and 

gradually start an ordinary canter; canter to G. 
at G change directions to X, negotiating obstacle 1 (slow down the 

ordinary canter) and at about X change directions again over obstacle 

3; continue canter to M. 

250' 




MODERNIZING THE IDEAL 239 

at M slow canter to C (as slow as you can make it). 

at C make a turn (preferably a short one) to the middle line and con- 
tinue slow canter along the middle line to X. 

at X halt for about five seconds, then start an ordinary trot; trot on 
middle line to A and leave the arena. 

The important points to note in this program are: 

1) The size of the oval arena, which is 125' x 250', permits the con- 
testant, without being cramped, to exhibit a good ordinary trot (8 
m.p.h.), and ordinary canter (10-12 m.p.h.) and even a gallop of about 
15 m.p.h. (The official size of the arena for the so-called Dressage tests 
is approximately 65' x 195' and is too small for a big hunter to exhibit 
the beauty of his free movements, while the square corners of such an 
arena further cramp him.) 

2) That a few jumps are included in the program; first of all to under- 
line the fact that the schooling test and the movements of which it is 
composed are part of the education of a horse destined to jump under 
varying circumstances. This presence of fences in the Program Ride tests 
the calmness of the horse or the skill of the rider in negotiating unex- 
pected obstacles and may prove conclusively whether the horse in 
question is pleasant to ride over fences and whether the rider is skillful 
enough to control his horse when it is, unexpectedly, introduced to a 
jump in the midst of different movements on the flat. This is quite 
different from merely rolling over an outside course. The height of fences 
in this schooling program should be 3'-3' 6" for the intermediate level. 

3) Although in Dressage very small circles (20' in diameter) at slow 
collected gaits are an important part of the exhibition, in the case of 
hunters (either field or show) wider turns at the speed at least of the 
ordinary trot and canter are clearly more important. Consequently, the 
circular movements should have diameters of at least 45' for the trot and 
65' for the canter. A short turn at the canter (which is not a circular 
movement), frequently encountered in show jumping and hunting, may 
also be included in programs for the intermediate level. 

4) In accordance with the definition of the Intermediate Level in this 
book, neither collected nor semi-collected gaits are included in the 
program. All the movements in the Program Ride must be of the kind 
which are actually and efficiently used in schooling a hunter or a 
jumper. The inclusion of the collected Dressage movements (both short- 
striding and extended) in the official Dressage test represent a part of 
the versatility test which the Three Day Event is. The Complete Test 
should represent a considerably narrower, more specialized program. 
Making a specialized horse is within the reach of many more riders 
than making a universal one. The Complete Test aims at raising the 
standards of many, rather than at achieving outstanding results with 
a few. 



240 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

PHASE II CROSS-COUNTRY 

This consists of galloping (at a hunting pace) across country, over a 
hunter-trials type of course, which takes advantage of the natural terrain, 
while the obstacles should be neither artificial nor tricky but, typical 
rather of the local country. 

The Intermediate Cross-Country course should be under two miles 
long, with two "Hold Hards." In these, the horses are required to come 
to an abrupt halt (as If in an emergency) and to stand still for about 30 
seconds. If the test takes place in hot weather, the horses may be walked 
In a circle, If necessary, to recover their wind, after they have stood 
quietly for the prescribed length of time. Horses which come unduly 
overheated to the finish line are penalized. This rule is particularly 
educational for those would-be horsemen who will take any chance with 
the horse's condition merely in order to win. The pace should be a 
sensible hunting pace; excessive as well as insufficient speed Is penalized; 
a horse that doesn't slow down In bad or slippery going Is also penal- 
ized. In short, this phase is not a steeplechase and not only should the 
horse show calmness throughout, but the rider should exhibit the cool 
common sense of a horseman who takes into consideration distance, 
going and weather, in relation to his horse's condition. Thus the spirit 
In which this phase is conducted differs radically from that of the 
recognized Horse Trials, in which speed in the cross-country phase is 
rewarded by bonuses. 

The obstacles in this phase should, of course, be varied and their 
height for the intermediate level should be S'-S' 9". The negotiation of 
obstacles should be judged by the same standards by which a working 
hunter is judged. On the other hand, in Horse Trials neither the style 
of jumping nor the manner of the approach is judged and thus the door 
is open for this phase to become a kind of cross-country open jumping 
a form which, unfortunately, such competitions occasionally do assume. 

PHASE III WORKING HUNTER CLASS 

In this phase the horses are competing in a normal show-ring type of 
working-hunter class and thus this phase can serve as schooling for 
regular showing. With this in view, the elementary level of this phase 
may be even simpler than anything one finds at a horse show. In cases 
where the Complete Test is designed to test riders, this phase should 
take the form of horsemanship over fences. In the Horse Trials the 
corresponding phase, Arena (Stadium) Jumping, is conducted along 
the lines of open jumping (although the fences remain low) with F.E.I. 
rules. 

PHASE IV GROUP RIDING 

This phase has been included in the Complete Test for Hunters 
because the horses' manners must be observed in company before the 



MODERNIZING THE IDEAL 241 

judges can determine which are the pleasantest conveyances to hounds. 
Many horses that behave well alone become upset and hard to handle in 
company. Not only other galloping horses, but hounds often excite a 
horse that may be rather quiet under other circumstances. Even when 
hounds are not available for this phase it still provides a necessary test 
for a hunter. 

When hounds are not used, horses can go through different exercises 
in company, on the flat and over fences, all devised to test the calmness 
of individual horses when they are passed by others, when they have to 
wait for their turn to jump, when they have to turn away from the 
group, etc. This subject is described in greater detail in another addition 
to this book Special Exercises for Hunters. (See pp. 309.) 

The test of calmness in company may also be regarded as a must for 
a Complete Test for a Junior Horse which may be asked to hack in 
company, compete over fences in hunter and junior jumping classes, 
perform in horsemanship classes and follow hounds as well. 

From the point of view of bettering the standards of riding, the 
above type of test, I am certain, is the most practical for today. Tnis 
does not mean, however, that it will remain such forever. Changing 
conditions of life will unquestionably change the attitudes of horsemen, 
and a test that makes common sense at present may not suit future 
developments in riding. 



CHAPTER XIV 

Almost Anyone Can Learn Forward Schooling 

Why Forward Schooling? Why not merely Schooling or Dressage? I 
suppose such a question will spring to the minds of many of my readers; 
hence the above title requires explanation. 

This chapter does not concern itself with schooling in the abstract; it 
doesn't describe schooling in general terms, claiming that it suits any kind 
of riding. The schooling presented in this book hasn't anything to do, 
for instance, with Polo or High School; it has for its goal a very specific 
type of riding: that is hunting, jumping, and a superior type of hacking. 
It intends to develop the horse physically and mentally for cross-country 
work, where the horse must be agile and soft while moving (most of the 
time) with forward balance. The latter is the reason for the name Forward 
Schooling. Not only in its name but in its essence it is in harmony with 
the two other parts of my method Forward Control and the Forward 
Seat. 

On the other hand, in this country, under the term Dressage, a type 
of schooling is usually understood which is primarily based on collection 
(central balance), no matter how elementary the schooling is. (About 
Dressage, see also Chapter IV.) 

People usually react to the word "Dressage" in two ways. Those who 
are really not horsemen at heart and merely wish to "raise hell on horse- 
back" (excuse the phrase) will consider it as something which belongs to 
the ring, perhaps to junior equitation classes, but has by no means anything 
to do with jumping or cross-country riding. Another grbup of riders, com- 
posed of serious horsemen with an old-fashioned education to which they 
tenaciously adhere, will maintain that Dressage is a general physical educa- 
tion for the horse, valuable no matter to what use he is to be put. A few 
riders will even maintain that Dressage is excellent for jumpers. 

"Jack of all trades, master of none" applies to a horse as well as to a 
human being and, if he aims only at producing a specialist, the trainer 
will have an easier time and will reach his goal more quickly. So Forward 
Schooling aims at making superior hacks, hunters and jumpers and noth- 
ing else. Such an approach to the physical development of an athlete 
would be considered standard in all other sports. No one would expect a 
champion golfer to be a winning tennis player or swimmer. Granting that 
a generally well-developed body is a great asset in any sport, in order to 
excel in any one particular thing one has to undergo special training. 
Never have I seen such a clear illustration of this point as when on the 
S.S. America at the same time as the United States Olympic Teams travel- 

242, 



ALMOST ANYONE CAN LEARN FORWARD SCHOOLING 243 

ling to England In 1948. The members of different teams, runners, discus 
throwers, wrestlers and others, spent a good part of each day on deck prac- 
ticing their own various sets of exercises to develop different muscles, 
different swings of legs or arms or what not. In this respect in riding, a 
step-child among the sports, there still exists mental confusion on the 
subject of schooling the horse; I suppose primarily because there is vague- 
ness in the general understanding of how the horse uses his body. 

Of course if one has a great deal of time on his hands (which it seems 
few have these days), then why not give the horse a sort of Liberal Arts 
education, followed by a specialized one as a post graduate course. The 
horse may even gain from it; but only in exceptional cases will the results 
make up for the extra time spent. The law of "diminishing returns" 
works even in riding. This idea of a general physical education as a pre- 
liminary to a specialized one occasionally takes grotesque forms such as, 
for instance, the old belief that early experience at the plow is good for 
hunters, although obviously the muscular efforts made in hunting are 
not the same which are made when plowing. 

All the exercises recommended in this book have as their basic aim free, 
efficient movement and so they attempt to develop those muscles of the 
horse's body which produce long, flat strides. Superficially, it is permissible 
to say that the better the horse's development in general, the better he 
will jump; therefore a great deal of work on collection is necessary. How- 
ever, the muscular training which produces short, high steps has little in 
common with that which results in the long, flat strides of a hunting 
gallop and its closely related movement, the jump. As a matter of fact, it 
is rare when a Dressage horse gallops well. 

On the other hand, some work on semi-collection may be advantageous 
in the development of the horse's agility, and you will find a description 
of this work here, 

The fact that many movements of Dressage are included in Forward 
Schooling without aiming at their perfection, makes it rather customary 
to call the ring part of Forward Schooling "Elementary Dressage." Su- 
perficially, of course, schooling movements devoid of finesse in their execu- 
tion can be called elementary. But if one looks more deeply into the 
matter, and in his work actually connects all the simply executed ring 
movements with jumping and cross-country work, then there is nothing 
elementary about Forward Schooling. It is all by itself and its comparison 
with Dressage is bound to result in mental confusion. Fortunately, For- 
ward Schooling is much simpler than Dressage, but it is as complete and 
final as the latter. 

So, all in all, the schooling program presented in the next chapter is a 
program of practical schooling for a cross-country horse. It aims at mak- 
ing a hunter or jumper a well-balanced horse, a good mover, a good 
jumper and a pleasant, strong, agile, cooperative horse to ride. In my 
estimation it is also the best method of preparing junior horsemanship 



244 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

horses for hunting seat equitation classes. As it is presented here it is 
stripped to the bone; everything that could be considered non-essential 
has been eliminated; you simply cannot make it shorter and simpler and 
still claim that you are schooling a horse. 

In presenting my method of schooling I assume that you have read this 
book thus far and are especially familiar with the second chapter on the 
mentality of the horse, with the three chapters on control and with the 
chapters on the mechanics of the horse's movements. In this last, as you 
remember, I defined the aims of Forward Schooling as the physical and 
mental education of the horse; of course, primarily the physical, and then 
the mental to the point where the horse cooperates with the rider. School- 
ing does not consist of making a pet out of a horse or merely giving him 
good manners. It means taking an awkward, green horse and turning him 
into a strong, well-balanced, strong-winded, agile animal, who carries his 
rider with the ease with which a human athlete would carry a burden. 

In the cavalry school, where I was a cadet, schooling was not taught. 
Upon graduating I knew advanced riding, that is, how to obtain a good 
performance in all sorts of movements from a schooled horse. But the sub- 
ject of schooling floated in my mind in the haziest form. In those days the 
fact that it should be a logical system of gymnastics escaped me and such 
a movement as two tracks I would have easily considered trick riding if 
I hadn't been told (with little explanation) that it was a part of school- 
ing. So, meekly obeying, I was repeating that two tracks is a good exercise, 
not being able to see why, nor understanding its place in the process of 
development of the horse's body. 

It was only in New York, around 1930, that it became clear to me that 
schooling is inseparable from position and control and that even the type 
of seat used depends on the type of schooling. Once I realized this, I was 
in trouble. The seat that I had adopted was a modification of the Italian 
seat, but Italian schooling, which primarily consisted in letting the horse 
develop by himself while being ridden over difficult terrain, always 
seemed to me inefficient; I couldn't accept it. The excellent book on train- 
ing by Colonel Harry Chamberlin had not yet made its appearance; James 
Fillis' book was obviously too old-fashioned, as were all other books of the 
period, and all by myself I was unable to conceive an entirely new and 
really efficient method of schooling cross-country horses. So, for a while, I 
was at a loss. Then I had a piece of good luck; the Chilean Army team 
came to New York, having at its head Captain Eduardo Yanez, not only 
a great rider, but a man with an exceptional equestrian education and 
with a very clear and logical mind. As a result of innumerable talks to- 
gether, and watching him in the saddle, the plan of Forward Schooling 
began to take shape in my head. My first program appeared in 1938 in my 
book MORE ABOUT RIDING FORWARD and parts of it were almost entirely 



ALMOST ANYONE CAN LEARN FORWARD SCHOOLING 245 

dictated by Captain Yanez; for a couple of years before it appeared in 
print I had already been lecturing with it, while my equine pupils demon- 
strated. On the strength of its practical application I Improved the pro- 
gram somewhat in my next book, BE A BETTER HORSEMAN, and I am 
doing so again in this one. 

It has been a source of constant regret to me that I never could figure 
out how schooling horses professionally could be turned into a living, a 
work which I have wanted to do in preference to all others. Even before 
I took a piece of paper and a pencil to calculate the possibilities in such 
a business I was facing a problem which I have still failed to solve, that 
is how a poor rider can successfully ride a schooled horse? Here I do not 
refer to a merely quiet, docile, well-mannered animal which jumps easy 
courses consistently, no matter what the rider does on his back; such 
horses are commonly referred to and sold as well-schooled ones. A really 
schooled horse (an athlete) sold to a person who does not know riding 
well will at first, at least, give him more trouble than pleasure for, being 
responsive, he will react too sensitively to clumsy aids, will become be- 
wildered by their frequent lack of meaning and, since he will be very 
agile, when excited or irritated may be much too quick for the security 
of an indifferent rider. All in all, only a schooled rider can enjoy a 
schooled horse. This, of course, considerably limits the possible market. 

And finally, schooling cannot be done cheaply; it requires a skilful, in- 
telligent rider; no such high-class man would work for less than twelve 
or fifteen dollars a day (after all, he is on a par with the skilled artisan) 
and he couldn't properly work more than three horses a day, which in 
round figures means that schooling a horse would cost about $1000, plus 
another $700 for board, shoeing, etc., while the horse is being schooled. 
When this, even without any profit, is added to the initial cost of the 
horse, then the whole thing becomes impractical. It becomes impractical 
primarily because of the fact that the majority of prospective buyers don't 
know what a schooled horse is and would rather pay less money for a 
supposedly schooled horse who has been given some sort of manners and 
jumped over fences by cheap and primitive labor. This sort of "fixing" of 
a horse, particularly of a good horse, can be done for $150 or $200 and 
the tag of a schooled horse attached to him, with very few people 
recognizing the difference. These estimates would, of course, be higher 
today (1962). 

Realizing these market difficulties I abandoned my pet project and 
as a close substitute have tried to specialize in teaching how to school 
horses. Thus the rider and the horse could progress simultaneously, while 
the cost of the course would be amply covered by the student's pleasure 
in improving his riding. 



246 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

It would be foolish to expect that the majority of the great number of 
people who find their way into the saddle at one time or another would 
be horsemen at heart; of course not. Hence it would be naive to hope that 
they all would be interested in schooling. But, the number who are is still 
surprisingly small. It would seem that all the riders who have time enough 
to hunt regularly and money enough to own beautiful hunters, as well as 
the intelligent horsemen among the horse-show riders, would be inter- 
ested in having their horses perform really well. But this is not the case 
either; I know of no group of riders which is in its entirety interested in 
riding per se. The real horsemen are scattered all over the country; you 
will find them belonging to different social and riding groups and doing 
different types of riding. As an illustration of the comparative lack of 
interest in schooling I would like to give you the statistics on the rental 
of three of my films: "Forward Control" rents twice as well as "Forward 
Schooling," while "The Forward Seat" has a three times bigger 
circulation. 

So, you may say, if this is the situation why should I worry about school- 
ing, teach it or write about it? This is precisely what I was told when, 
thirty years ago, I pioneered with the Forward Seat. The best that well- 
wishing friends could tell me then was something like this: "Why do you 
insist upon the Forward Seat? Nobody wants it, anyway. Why don't you 
just swim with the times and make money by doing so?*' I firmly believe 
that the time has arrived when the best among American horsemen are 
ready to become interested in schooling. Another ten or twenty years and 
it will be as firmly established as the Forward Seat is today. 

Of course, thirty-five years ago, when the American riding scene was 
virgin soil, one couldn't introduce schooling and make a go of it; pre- 
paratory work had to be done. Now, the latter has been accomplished, or 
almost accomplished, and schooling is bound to interest many, as any 
constructive accomplishment fascinates Americans in general. Many of my 
readers have probably noted articles on schooling which have appeared 
in different periodicals during the course 'of the last fifteen years; un- 
doubtedly these were written and published because schooling is in the 
air. Unfortunately all of these articles' which I came across were written 
on the basis of old-fashioned Dressage ideas and as such, being too remote 
from the actualities of American riding, succeeded merely in producing 
learned arguments in the form of letters to the editor. 

Schooling can be practiced in many different ways to fit different human 
characters. It can take the form of a rigid routine in which one systemati- 
cally moves from one point to the other; or it may be treated as something 
extremely flexible with all doors open for one's imagination. Take your 



ALMOST ANYONE CAN LEARN FORWARD SCHOOLING 247 

pick, depending upon your character. A judicious use o any sensible 
method should bring good results. This last statement Is very well illus- 
trated by the fact that many internationally winning teams which have 
succeeded each other In the laurels have schooled their horses in different 
ways. 

Personally, not being pedantic, being bored by routine in life In general, 
and believing in the conquering power of the human imagination, I 
present my program of schooling as something very fluid. If you happen 
to be a different kind of person and prefer to accept the program which 
you find in the next chapter as a mathematical equation, go ahead and 
do so and you will still obtain good results. But if you prefer merely to be 
given indications, and then to be left alone to analyze the performance of 
your horse, to figure out for yourself how to correct the defects of his 
performance, how to turn a merely good movement Into a really excellent 
one, etc., then if you are successful you will get a still greater joy out of 
it. Even, perhaps, by discovering something new, you will contribute to 
the progress of riding. 

Long ago I came to the conclusion that the greatest obstacle in the way 
of progress in riding Is the reluctance of so many riders to think. Conse- 
quently, all my teaching is based on efforts to stimulate thinking among 
my pupils. My experience has proved that I was correct and that only If 
riding is done with the head as well as the breeches do real horsemen 
result. Hence, I would like you to accept my program of schooling as 
merely a skeleton upon which to base your own ingenuity. 

Earlier In this book I have stressed the point that one must be an ad- 
vanced rider to school a horse; it is unquestionably so if one aims at con- 
siderable results. But, on the other hand, advanced riders being in the 
minority, such an approach to schooling considerably reduces the number 
of people who could enjoy it and profit by It. Hence the important ques- 
tion is whether a merely intermediate rider can school a horse. Yes, he can, 
but schooling and its aims must be simplified somewhat, as follows: 

1) Eliminate riding fully on the bit. 

2) Replace semi-collected and semi-extended gaits by gaits merely faster 
and slower than ordinary. 

3) Eliminate small circular movements which require semi-collection. 

4) Eliminate flexions. Efficient "give and take" will suffice. 

5) Eliminate flying changes of lead. 

With these simplifications you will still be able to make a good horse. 
On the other hand, practice in schooling will eventually teach you ad- 
vanced riding. 

The program of schooling which is to follow is meant for really green, 
but mentally 2nd physically sound horses (as green colts usually are). 
Only with drastic modifications can it be applied to the reclaiming of 



248 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

spoiled horses; these are cases all by themselves. Reclaiming ruined horses 
is a lengthy, discouraging and rarely completely satisfactory procedure. 
Its hopefulness or hopelessness depends on the fundamental character of 
the particular horse, on his age, and on how firmly his bad habits are 
established. While schooling a green horse usually proceeds in a compara- 
tively uniform manner, the reclaiming of each spoiled horse is a case by 
itself. 

To illustrate how tedious such work can be and how little one can hope 
for from it in some cases, even if successful, I would like to tell you a story 
of my own experience. In the early thirties one of my pupils had, among 
several horses which she showed, an open jumper, Arnoldean. This mare 
was good enough to compete in Madison Square Garden, but was hot, was 
becoming more so from year to year and was getting harder and harder 
to control, in spite of being bitted with increasing severity. I had many 
arguments with the owner, insisting that for a while the horse should be 
taken out of competitions, quieted down and re-schooled. Being many 
years younger, I was considerably more optimistic than today and was 
convinced that the job could be done. So, one of the hot arguments, in 
which I insisted that / certainly could do the job, ended by my purchas- 
ing the horse, really merely to have a chance to prove that I was right. I 
began by removing from her mouth the complicated paraphernalia which 
she carried, replaced it with a plain hunting snaffle and almost went out 
of the window of the ring. This was the beginning of a long walk (and 
nothing more than walk) which lasted six months. At the end of it she 
walked quietly on loose reins; but so does a normal green horse when first 
mounted. In approximately another year she became a good hack and I 
rode her all over the countryside on loose reins (snaffle) at all gaits. I 
even could quietly take an occasional obstacle on her; but the very sight 
of a horse-show ring or even of a course of jumps would make her frantic. 
I used this horse to illustrate the chapter on schooling in BE A BETTER 
HORSEMAN. The moral of this tale is that, if it is possible, you should keep 
away from ruined horses-, and remember that two months' work on a green 
horse is worth six months* efforts in reclaiming a spoiled one. 

But if, unfortunately, you have a spoiled horse and have to make the 
best of it, you still can use my method in your attempt to reclaim him. 
Only such cases have to be treated individually and the schooling program 
rearranged for almost every one of them. If your horse is like the majority 
of spoiled horses, then he is probably very excitable, pulls, rushes his 
fences, jumps them stiffly and perhaps dangerously, etc. To cure all this 
you must stabilize the horse (2nd month in the program) and it is very 
possible that that is all that your horse really needs to be an enjoyable 
mount again. But, if the horse is too far gone, you may not succeed or the 
reclaiming may take much too long to be practical. But, if you have suc- 
ceeded in calming the horse then, becoming more discriminating, you may 
find out that your horse isn't balanced well or isn't agile or that his strides 



ALMOST ANYONE CAN LEARN FORWARD SCHOOLING 249 

are too high and too short. In such cases concentrate on only a couple of 
defects at a time; choose exercises in the program which will counteract 
these faults and work on them. The moment your horse improves in these 
two presumably most glaring defects take up the next two most important 
faults and so on. Thus, little by little you may cover the whole program 
of schooling, but in an order of your own which suits your case. 

As an illustration of such use of the schooling program I would like to 
describe one of my recent experiences. I was asked to ride a certain horse 
for a few days in succession to determine whether he should be sold or 
whether anything could be done to improve his performance, which was 
extremely clumsy. He was a heavy-weight hunter of very decent conforma- 
tion who had been hunted one season at the age of four and by spring was 
not only jumping but even moving with a neck like a giraffe turned 
up to the skies and at gaits of his own invention. My friend had acquired 
him for about ten per cent of what he had brought the year before, and 
had stabilized him within half a year, so that the horse was moving very 
quietly with his neck in a natural position but there was one hitch. 
Once the horse was quiet it became obvious that whoever had ridden him 
for this one hunting season had done a thorough job in dulling his sides 
and his mouth they were really dead. When I mounted him and 
squeezed him with the full strength of my legs till I was blue in the face 
the horse didn't even move an ear. Neither did he move when, attempting 
to back him, I leaned back with my body, adding its weight to the strength 
of my arms and finally pushed my feet forward to use as a brace. The 
obvious problem was that, although to combat his clumsiness he had to 
be put through a course of gymnastics, it was impossible to make him do 
all the necessary movements in a relaxed manner when there was no 
response either to the hands or the legs. In the course of the first ride, 
after trying every trick of the trade that I knew, I came to the conclusion 
that my first problem was to explain the meaning of the aids to him and 
that the approach should be through his brains rather than through his 
mouth or sides. The second day I armed myself with a whip and a few 
lumps of sugar and quickly met with disappointment the horse wouldn't 
eat sugar! So this day didn't get us anywhere and upon dismounting I 
switched some of my responsibility to the groom, telling him that by to- 
morrow the horse simply must eat sugar and he did. The next day my 
pupil mounted him and we began, perhaps illogically, with the half-turn 
on the forehand. While my assistant was rather gently using one leg to 
rotate the quarters I, from the ground, was helping with the whip, tap- 
ping the horse's side just behind the rider's active leg. Then came the 
sugar. This was the exercise in obedience to one leg. For the next exercise 
we chose backing, to teach obedience to the reins of direct opposition. 
Again, while my pupil was rather gently and hence hopelessly pulling on 
the reins I, tapping his fore legs with my whip, would force him to make 
one step back. Then would come a pat, another gentle pull, another tap- 



250 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

ping with the whip, another step back and perhaps a piece of sugar. The 
next day I was doing it from the saddle with the help of whip and sugar, 
but without any assistant and in another two days it became clear that 
signals could be taught to him and if so, then he could, in a relaxed man- 
ner, be put through all the exercises necessary to rid him of his clumsiness. 

There is one bright side to the work of reclaiming horses; that is that 
once you succeed in calming and relaxing the horse, the rest of the school- 
ing can proceed at a faster tempo than with a colt. Assuming that a 
spoiled horse will be at least six years old, hence formed physically and 
having the knack of carrying a rider, you won't have to worry so much 
about straining his body as when schooling a growing horse. 

Putting too young a horse to work is very common. I could give a very 
long list of outstanding authorities on riding who all agree that actual 
schooling should not begin before the horse has reached the age of four 
and that he should only take his first 4' fence when nearing five. Putting 
the horse to work earlier is taking the chance of crippling an immature 
horse both mentally and physically. On the other hand, if the trainer 
proceeds slowly while the horse is yet a youngster it is likely that he will 
be still sound and calm when nearing twenty. 

Such statements can be found in practically every worthwhile book and 
as far back as the 17th century. So unquestionably everyone who owns 
a horse has heard it at least once. But this is one of the facts which is more 
conveniently forgotten than remembered. The reason is to be found in 
the common traits of the human character. Suppose an average rider buys 
a three-year-old horse; one of the questions that worries him is "will this 
horse jump?" His limited knowledge of horses and riding, and his prob- 
ably non-existent knowledge of schooling, will result in his being con- 
vinced that the horse can jump only if he actually sees him jumping on 
the day he buys him. Hence a dealer is compelled to jump his colts much 
too early and he even cannot afford to take time to do it gradually. The 
average rider, no matter how good his resolutions may be, once the horse 
is bought, usually can't wait to see how the horse will go for him in the 
hunting field or in the horse show and thus arises one of the commonest 
abuses of this animal. 

There is one more thing, and a very important one, pertaining to cor- 
recting horses (not full reclaiming) which I would like to discuss. Many 
people own horses which do not behave in a really obnoxious manner but 
merely have some irritating defects. For instance, a horse may have a stiff 
poll; a rubber neck; an arched, overflexed neck; a mouth stiff in one side 
or a generally hard mouth or an oversensitive one; stiff sides, short gaits, 
etc. I wanted very much to write a special chapter on how to remedy these 
imperfections without going through the full program of schooling. Un- 
fortunately this cannot be done; I don't believe that anyone can give 
sensible advice in such cases without seeing and analyzing the individual 
horse. While schooling colts is a rather uniform process, correcting the bad 



ALMOST ANYONE CAN LEARN FORWARD SCHOOLING 251 

habits of old horses is very irregular. I am often asked questions on how 
to correct such habits and I always decline to answer, saying that I person- 
ally must see the animal. Just the other day a lady asked me what she 
should do to correct such and such a fault in her horse's jumping. As 
usual, I said that I would like to see the horse but, feeling that she was 
disappointed and that I should prolong the conversation I, in my turn, 
inquired about the age of the horse and was very glad I had asked the 
question, because the answer was "twenty-four/* So, in order to avoid 
hundreds of such possible misunderstandings, I am not going to tackle 
this matter in this book. The schooling program, however, contains all 
the necessary data and it is up to you to use your imagination in applying 
them to your horse. 

Jumping, in this chapter, as in this book in general, is not presented as 
a separate subject but rather as an integral part of the schooling of a 
hunter and jumper. Obviously jumping, as a series of movements of the 
horse's body, is as closely related to ordinary gaits as these gaits are to 
each other. The quality of the jump, the gaits, the turns and other move- 
ments is the result of the degree to which the horse's balance, strength 
and agility have been developed; and all of these factors in their turn are 
influenced by the conformation and the emotional qualities of the particu- 
lar horse. Hence it is really absurd to think that all the jump that the 
horse has can be gotten out of him by merely jumping; basic general 
schooling must precede the actual exercises over obstacles. There is noth- 
ing new about the idea that through basic schooling the body of the horse 
is developed to the point where he can use it efficiently in jumping, but it 
may sound novel to many readers, for in this country this fundamental 
rule is rarely observed. In the majority of cases no basic schooling is given 
to a jumper and he is expected to develop his natural jumping abilities 
merely through jumping fences. This primitive method often does not 
even include an assortment of fences to develop different jumping 
qualities. The thing that may be bewildering to a layman is the fact that 
by this cave-man practice horses are made which leap far over very high 
obstacles. Even if you consider that this procedure sometimes Includes 
poling with electric shocks or a light blistering of the horse's legs 
(enough to make him afraid of touching the bars), it still makes jumpers 
who win ribbons and hence are valued by many. The results of such brutal 
but quick "schooling" are practical because the quality of our horses, and 
therefore their natural ability, is very high while the conditions of the 
average jumping classes are not conceived to promote good jumping but 
rather merely high and clean jumping. If you don't care whether your 
horse is so upset by the whole thing that he jumps like a lunatic, that he 
leaps so stiffly that every landing hurts him and consequently he has 
seventy-five chances out of one hundred of being buried before he reaches 
seven years; if, furthermore, you don't mind if he is unpleasant to ride 
and if his jumps are difficult to sit and ugly to watch, then, of course, 



252 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

you will not agree with my reasoning which is, as you already know, based 
on the desire to have a mentally and physically relaxed horse who per- 
forms naturally and athletically. To a horseman all this is clear, but to 
a layman or a beginner such terms as a natural or athletic jump are empty 
sounds; he doesn't know what a good jump is, he is merely impressed by 
the height of a huge leap. And even to some experienced riders with 
elementary mentality the humane and artistic approach to the horse's per- 
formance is "just boloney." And to prove that it is boloney they will cite 
you horses who, at the age of twenty, go quietly, stay sound and win 
ribbons after a life-long jumping career which began with practically no 
education. And these are not stories. There are such horses, numbering 
probably something like five per cent of those competing. These are the 
horses which impress the novice in the game, for he sees them perform 
year after year while, naturally, he never hears of the great majority which 
are dead and buried. I have pointed out already that this book does not 
concern itself with exceptional riders, neither does it take up the cases 
of exceptional horses. It deals with the average and the hope of my method 
is to raise the standard of the average performance. 

I suspect that the feeling against my method as regards jumping may 
be quite general in certain groups of riders such as, for instance, owners 
of open-jumpers and, consequently, I would like to point out that my 
approach is not a purely personal one. As a matter of fact, one may say 
that it is international in certain equestrian groups; it is (in its funda- 
mental principles) what Colonel Harry Chamberlin taught in the United 
States and what riders of his caliber practice in other countries. As I 
have pointed out already, many details of artistic riding and schooling 
can be and should be greatly simplified for the use of amateurs, but many 
of their fundamentals cannot be discarded. 

A year ago a very interesting book entitled CONCOURS HIPPIQUE, written 
by Y. Benoist-Gironiere, was published in France. Its subject is very spe- 
cific jumping in horse shows, and its form is very original. The author 
makes various statements which he submits to sixteen outstanding riders 
of different countries (our Colonel Earl F. Thomson among them) for 
comment and criticism. On page 32 we read (the translation is mine): 

"Before undertaking work over obstacles let us be sure of good (basic) 
schooling ... to make an unschooled horse jump with a rider is to go 
out to meet trouble and to provoke resistances which are frequently per- 
manently compromising." 

And here are comments on this statement by three internationally 
known horsemen: 

1) "Preliminary schooling is of first importance. Certain pre-war teams 
which we know well and which had very great success owe the better part 
of their victories to it; it was the basis of them. This schooling which is 
to be undertaken with a young, green horse should put him forward on 
the bit, balance him and render him absolutely supple and obedient to 



ALMOST ANYONE CAN LEARN FORWARD SCHOOLING 253 

the hands and legs. This work done, it will be possible to ride him agree- 
ably in competitions on a snaffle and not on a full bridle, martingale, 
pulley or other forcible means which are always harmful/' (Commented 
by Colonel Haccius, Vice President of the International Equestrian Fed- 
eration. Former member of the Swiss International team.) 

2) "This is absolutely correct; the difficulties encountered in competi- 
tions are almost always the result of incomplete schooling." (Commented 
by Colonel Lombardo di Cumia of the Italian International team.) 

3) "This phrase should be written in letters of steel on all jumping 
courses . . . basic schooling is necessary everyday. Lack of schooling was 
the reason why many good jumpers couldn't be used with success." (Com- 
mented by Colonel Jose M. Cavanillas, captain of the Spanish Inter- 
national team.) 

Any logical thinking about the horse's jump is bound to bring one to 
the conclusion that the main components of a good performance over an 
obstacle are: 

1) A quiet, relaxed but alert approach. 

2) Boldness based on assurance. 

3) Ability to figure the take-off. 

4) Powerful thrusts with the forehand and hindquarters. 

5) Acrobatic use of the back, neck and head. 

6) Efficient folding of the legs. 

7) A quiet, relaxed going away after landing. 

Out of these items the quiet approach and landing, the strong thrusts 
and the acrobatics largely depend on the basic schooling which develops 
the horse's cooperation, relaxation when ridden, balance, strength and 
agility. When teaching your horse to jump you must constantly have in 
mind the components of a good performance and what produces them. 

There are several points which we should discuss before beginning to 
examine the schooling program; one of them is the use of force when 
working and later when riding a horse. Naturally, at least at the beginning 
of schooling in general, and during the first lesson of every new movement 
in particular, because the horse does not understand what is wanted of 
him, or because what is asked requires more effort than he cares to make, 
he may resist. A talented, tactful, experienced trainer will probably sue* 
ceed in avoiding open revolt and will greatly diminish the amount of 
even mild resistance, but still some will take place; no matter how good 
the teacher, on occasions his pupil will misunderstand him. In combatting 
these misunderstandings and resistance the trainer, of course, will have to 
enclose the horse between his legs and hands and with the various com- 
binations of these aids, as described in the chapters on control, force him 
into the execution of this or that movement. Such moments are bound 
to occur not only at the beginning of schooling but even in the advanced 
stages of it. Their number can be tactfully diminished but they cannot 



254 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

be completely eliminated; the question Is only whether the combination 
of aids "which forces the horse into the execution of a certain movement 
should be regarded as an ultimate in schooling, and later In riding, or 
whether the lessons should aim toward replacing force with the lightest 
signals to which the horse can be trained to respond. For Instance, in the 
canter departure on the left lead (In the case of a cross-country horse) 
what Is better as a final aim? Is it better that even a completely schooled 
horse should start a canter on the left lead only after the rider has closed-in 
both legs to establish contact, then with his left hand turned the head 
slightly to the left, at the same time moving both hands to the right, and 
ranged the quarters somewhat to the left with his right leg? Or, is it better 
when, while going free on contact or loose reins a slight touch with the 
left rein, so light that it will not displace the head, and an urge with the 
right leg, so light that it may not range the quarters, will be a memorized 
signal sufficient to make the horse start the canter on the left lead? In 
other words should schooling aim at a constant, forceful domination of 
the horse by the rider, or should It attempt to establish the cooperation 
of the horsef 

I believe In the latter. I believe that a good rider is not merely a man 
who, by means of physical dexterity, is always able to place the horse in 
this or that position in order to obtain this or that movement, but is also 
a person who has access to the mentality of his horse. Granting that great 
Dressage or jumping performances on an international level cannot be 
expected on the strength of the horse's mental cooperation alone, I be- 
lieve that a normally good performance In the hunting field and in ama- 
teur shows is more easily achieved by putting stress on the horse's mental 
cooperation. Only great riders, riding really well-schooled horses, can ride 
forcibly without contracting the horse both mentally and physically* 
Average riders (with whom this book is concerned), riding merely de- 
cently-schooled horses, are much better off If they don't try to imitate the 
best equestrians, and realize their own and their horses' limitations. As a 
matter of fact, all great riders make constant use o the horse's coopera- 
tion and this is one of the reasons why In truly great Dressage perform- 
ances the spectators cannot see the activity of the aids; they are too mild 
to be easily observed. But this mental cooperation is rarely spoken of in 
our age, probably because ours is a mechanical era and comparatively 
few amateur riders of today are interested in the horse's mental processes. 
Our modern humanitarian approach to the animal may, paradoxically 
enough, not always be a really understanding one. 

As an illustration of how strongly cooperation can be established in the 
horse I would like to tell you of what happened to me just yesterday. I 
have a huge Irish hunter Barnaby Bright who, for various reasons, had 
not been ridden for eighteen months and, pleasantly loafing at pasture, 
had had plenty of opportunity to forget everything he had ever known. 
Lately he had been mildly exercised a few times and three days ago I 



ALMOST ANYONE CAN LEARN FORWARD SCHOOLING 255 

mounted him to see how much schooling he still remembered. On the 
first day, during the whole half hour that I rode him he had a constant 
and strong inclination to send me to hell but, on the second day, bribed 
by a piece of sugar for every well-executed movement, he went through 
his whole program; this, by the way, is somewhat more than is required in 
the schooling test of the Three-Day-Event; he did two tracks at the trot 
and gallop and even the four changes of leads in four strides in response 
to slight efforts of my legs and hands. The most amazing thing to me was 
his semi-collected trot, which he did brilliantly on very light contact. Dur- 
ing it I could even drop all tension on the reins and he would still go 
semi-collectedly for the next five or six strides, after which I could feel 
that he was thinking of stopping it and was asking me "isn't it enough?" 
Then, all that was needed was to re-establish contact, urge him forward 
onto it with the legs; he would flex and would continue again for a few 
steps on loose reins, with little aid from my legs, practically by himself. 
And all this after eighteen months of probably not thinking of being 
ridden. 

This excellent memory which the horse possesses is the ally of a good 
trainer and the enemy of a bad one. The horse will remember unpleasant 
experiences as easily and as tenaciously as pleasant ones. So beware. 

I know from practice that anyone with merely moderate abilities can 
school a horse by emphasizing mental cooperation. I also know from the 
same personal experience of a teacher that the same riders if they don't 
make use of the mentality of the horse, and try to dominate him by 
mechanical aids alone, have unhappy, stiffly-moving and often resisting 
horses under them. The fundamental aim of my method is the gradual 
turning of the often necessarily forceful riding of the early lessons into 
obedience to mild signals, the horse performing "on his own." 

I realize, of course, that in some cases the above described refinement 
of jiding is impractical; I personally was familiarly acquainted with one 
such case the army or, to be more specific, the Russian cavalry of fifty 
years ago. Since the bulk of the ranks consisted of troopers who were not 
sportsmen, who were taught riding for war and not as an art or even a 
game, and who actually didn't have any time to think of riding or to 
practice it outside lessons and riding In military formation, riding in the 
army could not be taught on the principles on which this book is based; 
there, naturally, the forceful aids had to be dominant, and a truly good 
performance could not be aimed at. 

Some riders, not in sympathy with my method in general, and particu- 
larly those who were brought up in the spirit of precise Dressage, will 
probably object to what I have just said, maintaining that the comparative 
passiveness of the rider and freedom of the horse will result in lack of 
precision in the execution of different schooling movements. They are 
right; they will. And this brings us to the second fundamental point of my 
method of schooling. 



256 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

All the schooling movements which you would find in the program are 
merely the means to develop a cross-country horse or a jumper; they 
are not an aim in themselves. For instance, when two tracking, you are 
merely giving the horse an exercise which will tend to develop the 
engagement of the hindquarters and the extension of the shoulders, as 
well as general agility all of them important in jumping. But you don't 
practice two tracks just to obtain perfection in this movement. Such per- 
fection is the aim of the supreme form of ring riding Dressage; it has 
nothing to do with the preparation of a horse for the field. In any move- 
ment all the value of the gymnastics is exhausted long before perfection is 
reached. The same goes for the obedience of the horse; one naturally 
wishes to have a cooperative horse, but an automaton is unnecessary. For 
instance, in the Full Dressage of the Olympic Games, while standing still 
the horse must be absolutely immobile; if he turns his head to the side 
or moves one of his legs a few inches it is considered a fault. Obviously this 
doesn't mean anything in cross-country riding. 

Aiming at complete precision in the execution of schooling movements 
can, besides being unnecessary, also be an evil. For, as an. example, per- 
fection in the flying changes of lead can be obtained only through full 
collection. So if one wishes to reach perfection in flying changes of lead 
the horse must be worked a great deal at a collected canter and so much 
of a collected gait may give the horse a habit of moving with compara- 
tively short, high steps. Thus the main aim of preparing the horse for 
cross-country and jumping efficient movement will be defeated. When 
following my program of schooling never lose track of the main aims and 
never confuse important things with mere details. 

The above two points: 1) The horse's cooperation and 2) considering 
ring exercises merely as gymnastics to develop efficient movement, are the 
most important for you to remember. Besides them there are others, 
rather common ones, which are to be found in many books on schooling. 
They are: 

1) Be tactful. Don't ask anything while the horse is upset; for teaching 
the horse a new movement choose a moment when he is in a tooperative 
mood. Never provoke a struggle, and do everything to avoid one when you 
feel it coming. Always be a sympathetic teacher and not the conqueror of 
a brute. 

2) Be patient. Try all sorts of means of explaining to the horse what 
you want of him (of the two you have the more brains and this is your 
part of the game). When the horse refuses to comply with your orders the 
doubt should flash through your mind, "perhaps I did not explain clearly 
enough to him what I wanted;" you simply must learn the horse's lan- 
guage. 

3) Be moderate. Never forget to consider the horse's mental and physi- 
cal fatigue; each lesson is a step in the gradual development of the 



ALMOST ANYONE CAN LEARN FORWARD SCHOOLING 257 

horse and every lesson must be only very slightly more difficult than the 
preceding one. 

4) Be analytical. When resistance is encountered try to determine its 
causes; perhaps a certain day is an "off day" for the horse, or some of his 
muscles hurt after too much of some one exercise on the previous day; or 
possibly he merely does not concentrate, or he is really ill, etc. Each one 
of these conditions will require different action on your part. Get in the 
habit after dismounting of reviewing the lesson in your mind. 

5) Be persistent. If your analysis leads you to believe that there are no 
legitimate causes for the horse to misunderstand or to resist you, then 
coolly, but stubbornly insist on the execution of what you wish. 

6) Be grateful. Give the horse frequent rests; never fail to recompense 
him either with patting, or soothing words or a rest or a bit of something 
tasty each time he cooperates. 

7) Be just. Never punish a horse merely because you are irritated; if 
it is -necessary, punish severely at times, but never angrily. If on a certain 
day you feel generally angry with your horse, then the best you can do 
is to forget about schooling for that day. Punishment should be the result 
of cool judgment and not of hot emotions. Both punishments and re- 
wards must be administered very rationally; only then will the horse learn 
to know what is good and what is bad in his behavior. 

Here are two more points to discuss before we reach the program; they 
are the seat and the equipment. Naturally, I expect you to use the for- 
ward seat, but I also hope that you are not going to use it pedantically. If 
at certain periods of schooling you should require a strong use of the 
legs, lengthen your stirrups (the forward seat for schooling). If, in teach- 
ing a certain movement, change of leads for Instance, you should feel 
you could do better if seated loosely, do so, etc. Don't try to a have a pic- 
ture seat but rather a workman's seat; your seat is a means and not an end. 

Your equipment should be a plain hunting snaffle and nothing else. It 
will suffice for semi-collection with flexions. Don't use a full bridle for 
schooling unless you are a very good rider. For schooling a cross-country 
horse it is a too complicated, a too refined and an unnecessary instrument. 
If, after you have schooled your horse on a snaffle, you should find that 
he is hard to control in the hunting field, then put a Pelham or a full 
bridle on him, but merely as a stronger brake. There is no special tech- 
nique in using the full bridle just for this purpose. This is the only case 
when with some high-strung horses a full bridle will be necessary even 
after being schooled and well-ridden according to my method, while you 
will never have use for martingales or other gadgets. 

Many riders use martingales on the slightest provocation; some merely 
because they believe it dresses up the horse. I personally belong to the 
category of those who are ashamed to use one. It always seems to me 



258 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

that the presence of a martingale betrays the fact that one either failed 
to give a correct attitude to the horse's neck in schooling, or that one has 
bad hands. As a matter of fact, I pride myself on the fact that I do not 
remember the day when I used a martingale for the last time. Looking 
upon it purely practically, the question resolves itself into the following 
points: 

1) In order to accomplish anything in improving the horse's head 
carriage a standing martingale must be adjusted so short that the balanc- 
ing gestures of the horse's neck are impeded. A long standing martingale 
is only good for saving the rider's nose. 

2) The ordinary adjustment of the running martingale is such that it 
pulls the reins down the moment the rider uses them and makes the 
hands heavy. 

3) Horses very often throw up the head to fight against the martingale. 
Lately I had a class in which three riders were mounted on horses with 

bad positions of the neck and head and hence with martingales. In half 
an hour I removed the martingales and in two days every one of these 
horses (all young ones) was moving with neck and head extended for- 
ward. In these two days I succeeded in calming these horses through 
softening the hands of their riders. 

Once in a while, of course, one meets with exceptions. 

To all the suggestions to be found in this chapter I would like to add 
one more, which I have left for the last because I think it the most im- 
portant and did not want it to be lost among the others: occasionally stop 
to consider what your horse thinks of you. 

A short while ago I was giving a course in schooling to a few of the 
best riders in a women's college. These girls, one at a time, showed 
me the horses on which they had been working for two or three months. 
The routine of presentation of every horse began with the rider telling me 
her horse's past history, her analysis of his character and physique and 
what she was doing to improve the horse. 

Among these horses was a five-year-old thoroughbred possessing (as I 
later learned) remarkable jumping ability; he had arrived at the college 
two months previously as a completely upset horse. To use an appropriate 
expression, he was "walking on his eyebrows." Obviously his jumping 
ability had been his undoing and he had probably been forced to jump 
anything in sight at the age of three and had accordingly become a 
nervous wreck. It had taken the student all of two months to calm and 
stabilize him and, naturally being impatient, she was rather angry with 
her horse and, among other things, said to me, "he is a fool." Then her 
very wise instructor (Miss Harriet H. Rogers) interrupted her and said: 
"He is not a fool but he thinks that all human beings are." 

Now, in the spirit of all that has been said, I am about to present the 
program of schooling. This program, conceived for an average horse, may 



ALMOST ANYONE CAN LEARN FORWARD SCHOOLING 259 

not entirely fit yours; you may have to change the time schedule as well 
as the order of exercises, so, as I suggested, Instead of following this pro- 
gram rigidly accept It rather as an indication and adjust it to suit your 
individual problem. It assumes that the horse to be schooled is at least 
nearing four years. 



CHAPTER XV 

The Program of Forward Schooling 

This chapter is entirely devoted to an explanation of the schooling 
program which is presented here in the form of a chart followed by notes 
on its use. When schooling your horse according to this program the 
following points are to be considered: 

1) This program in its entirety is for hunters and jumpers; in the case 
of country hacks all the jumping, with the exception of stabilization over 
2' obsfacles, can be eliminated. You need to preserve the latter as your 
horse may have to jump a tree fallen across the path or some such thing. 
Long, fast gallops are also unnecessary for a hack and in his case the level 
of execution of all exercises can be somewhat lowered. 

2) The division of the work into nine periods of a month each is an 
approximation which is expected to suit the average horse schooled by 
the rider with some schooling experience. You may find that in your case 
as little as seven months or as much as twelve months may be required to 
cover the program without upsetting your horse mentally or crippling 
him physically. But even if nine months happens to be the best time for 
you, you may find that switching an exercise here and there from one 
month to another brings better results. If your actual work shows that 
this is so, do it by all means. And, I repeat: in general, don't consider the 
program a rigid rule; it is meant to be merely a guide in your thinking 
about the gradual physical development of your horse. 

3) The titles opposite each month refer to the new exercises introduced 
in the course of it; only in some cases do these titles fully describe the 
work of the month, but they may help you to memorize the general plan 
of schooling. 

4) Only the newly introduced exercises are mentioned in each month 
of the program; in actuality movements introduced during a certain 
month occupy less time than the work on bettering those already learned. 

5) Before beginning each new movement read the description of it in 
Chapter IX on What Is a Good Performance of the Horse, and the tech- 
nique of its execution in Chapters XI and XII on Learning Control on 
Intermediate Level and Advanced Control. 

While following this program always keep in mind the general philoso- 
phy of schooling which you will find in Chapter XIV on Almost Anyone 
Can Learn Forward Schooling. 

6) This program is conceived for a horse about four years old. 

60 



THE PROGRAM OF FORWARD SCHOOLING 261 

7) The whole program should be executed on a regular hunting snaffle; 
no martingales or other supplementary contrivances should be used. 

NOTES ON THE PROGRAM OF FORWARD SCHOOLING 

(TABLE III) 
(Isx MONTH (LONGEING). 

Longeing. Schooling begins on a longe, teaching obedience to voice 
commands for a walk, trot, canter, halt, slowing down or increase of speed. 
These are the first lessons in cooperation. If, when mounted a month 
later, the horse is already obedient to the voice, then when riding him 
along the wall of the ring the rider will be able to control him primarily 
by voice commands without poking him roughly in the ribs or pulling 
heavily on his mouth. It will take time for the horse to learn the mild 
leg and hand signals and the efficient way of teaching them is with the 
help of the voice, gradually transferring the horse from it to legs and 
hands; everything should be done to establish obedience to regular aids 
without dulling the horse's sides and mouth. 

The technique of longeing is very simple. First you have to explain to 
the horse that you wish him to go around you on a circle of the radius of 
the length of the longe. Yoti can do this by leading the horse on a large cir- 
cle and little by little lengthening the longe and, with the help of the whip 
pointed toward the horse step away from him. Or you may ask someone to 
help you by leading the horse around while you stand in the middle of the 
circle. Teaching this may take you twenty minutes, or, if you are awkward 
about it or the horse resists, a couple of days. You may have a little extra 
trouble with some horses who will go willingly to one side and not to an- 
other. When longeing to the left hold the longe in the left hand with the 
whole arm leading the movement. At first you will need the whip to urge 
the horse forward simultaneously with giving the voice-command. To pre- 
vent the horse from cutting down the circle point the whip toward the 
shoulder. If the horse disobeys your command to slow down or to stop, 
quickly shorten the longe and moving toward the horse hold the whip in 
front of his face. Probably in about ten days you will require the whip 
rarely and it will be lying at your feet in case of need. The horse should 
respect the whip but not be panicky about it. Hence it is good practice to 
accustom him to it by gently patting his body with it at the beginning of 
the first half dozen lessons. 

Never start your lesson if the horse, feeling fresh at first, bucks and 
romps around you. Don't punish him for this but let him get it out of 
his system; then start to work. But if, during the lesson, the horse, for in- 
stance, gallops when you want him to trot, disobeys your voice and the 
signal with the whip pointed in front of his face, then give him a jerk 
with the longe. 

In short, that is all. You don't have to hold your leading arm precisely 



262 



COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 



in a certain position or your whip at a special angle (some writers make 
a terrible fuss about such things); the essential is to establish understand- 
ing between you and your horse. In other words, primarily to use your 
brains and have sympathy for your pupil. 

Longe on the cavesson. A halter is too loose, while attaching a longe to 
the ring of the bit of a bridle spoils a horse's mouth and makes the jerks 
with the heavy longe too severe. 

In about two weeks, when the horse walks, trots and canters quietly and 
evenly around you, begin crossing bars laid on the ground. As soon as the 
horse responds to this without any excitement gradually raise the bars to 
about 1'6". 

When longeing over a fence, a circle is too small (even at the full ex- 
tension of the longe) to give a green horse a straight approach long enough 
for a comfortable take-off. Therefore, when longeing over obstacles, adopt 




Pic. 78. Longeing over fences. (See text) 

the following procedure: first, to stabilize the horse at the gait, make two 
or three circles about 20' away from the jump on the take-off side. Then 
let the horse go straight for the last 20', running parallel to him yourself 
and keeping slightly ahead of him, leading him forward with the longe. 
It is particularly at the moment of the jump itself that the longe must be 
ahead of the horse; otherwise you will pull him back, although by rapidly 
letting out the longe you can considerably diminish the ill effects of this. 
Don't stop running as soon as the horse has cleared the obstacle. Run 
another 20' or so, and then either gradually stop the horse or make a 
couple of circles to return the horse to the quiet movement of the ap- 
proach. (Picture 78) 

And what about jumping in a chute or free in a small ring? I think any 
kind of free jumping is good for the horse and I do not use these two 
methods, simply because when the horse is completely free I rarely can 
(with my voice) regulate his gaits and speeds. On the longe this is in the 



THE PROGRAM OF FORWARD SCHOOLING 263 

hands of the trainer and the exercise becomes a stepping stone to the next 
lessons in stabilization, while on the obstacle itself the horse is com- 
pletely free. But I have seen quite a few horses which performed com- 
pletely free in a small ring, obeying the trainer's voice commands. They 
were doing all the gaits, changes of directions, and jumping calmly at 
any gait indicated by the trainer. If you can do this with your horse, so 
much the better. 

When teaching a young horse to jump on the longe bear in mind that 
you do it partly because his natural balance under the weight of the rider 
has not yet been restored even at ordinary gaits, and you cannot expect 
him to jump athletically when mounted; this will have an opportunity to 
develop later when general schooling has improved his balance. Hence, 
at an early stage the most that you can do mounted is to teach the horse 
to approach fences (bars on the ground) quietly. A correct mental attitude 
is the basis for future physical efforts. 

In many cases I am unable to start the schooling on a longe. Many of 
my junior pupils lack the strength to handle a young playful horse on a 
longe, while others are soon bored with longeing, as they are naturally 
eager to work their green horses mounted. Since the young green horses 
acquired by junior riders have almost always already been ridden, 
longeing can in these cases be skipped and voice commands and early 
cooperation can be taught from the saddle. An adult, however, who has 
acquired a truly green horse, will certainly benefit by starting on a longe. 

In the case of a colt which is apt to be fresh when first mounted it is 
important that he either be turned out before the lesson or that an 
adult longe him in order to get the bucking out of his system. 

Hacking to cool off. Each of your longeing lessons, with the frequent 
pauses for rest, should last from half an hour to forty-five minutes and if 
your colt, which I assume is already broken to the saddle, is in good 
physical condition I would suggest mounting him after longeing and 
taking him outside, preferably in company with an old and quiet horse, 
for a relaxed walk. But in such cases avoid as much as possible using 
your legs and hands; remember the horse doesn't know their meaning yet. 

Mounting, leading, etc. You should make use of the rest periods to 
teach the horse to stand absolutely quietly when you mount or dismount; 
to stand calmly while you are holding him dismounted; to walk by your 
side without fuss when you are leading him and so forth. It would be nice 
to teach your horse to follow you when free for, after all, this month is 
the time when you lay the foundation for a friendly relationship between 
you and your horse. 

2ND MONTH (STABILIZATION). 

Stabilization. To stabilize a horse means to teach him to maintain by 
himself even gaits on completely loose reins. This is a very important 



264 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

point to achieve, A horse stabilized at gaits somewhat slower than ordi- 
nary ones, will later on obediently maintain higher speeds on very light 
contact. Stabilization is the basis for a future soft mouth, which consists 
in certain physical responses based on mental cooperation. Cooperation 
established so early in the game will be rarely forgotten by the horse. 

While stabilization at a walk and trot is taught along the walls of the 
arena, stabilization at the canter, a couple of weeks later, would be wisely 
begun on a large circle approximately the size of the longeing circle or 
slightly larger going nowhere the horse will probably canter quietly. 
Stabilization is achieved on the strength of voice commands learned the 
previous month. 

Stabilization of the approach to the obstacle is taught simultaneously 
and is begun by approaching the bar on the ground, gradually raising it; 
if lucky, you may reach the height of 1'6" or 2' at all gaits in the course 
of this month. Don't fail to see the woods for the trees and remember 
that your aim at this period is not a clean or a high jump but merely a 
quiet approach. If, for instance, when your horse approaches a 1' obstacle 
at a trot he merely trots over it instead of jumping, so much the better; 
for this means that the horse, being relaxed mentally, recognizes the 
height of the fence and does not waste energy on more effort than is 
necessary to negotiate it. At this stage you are not teaching the horse to 
jump but merely to approach obstacles. Don't slight this part of schooling 
and you will never have pulling or rushing horses. Work over Cavaletti 
may begin during this month. 

It is very possible that in your community the horse is started jumping 
in a very different way and hence the above method may seem very 
strange to you. But just the same I would suggest your giving it very care- 
ful consideration, for it is the one on which practically all modern 
authorities agree. Colonel H. Chamberlin, for instance, who made or 
influenced the making of many outstanding international jumpers says: 

"After about two weeks' jumping instruction on the longe, mounted 
work over the same obstacles that were employed for leading and longe- 
ing may begin. When mounted, the trainer, beginning at the walk, re- 
hearses thoroughly all work previously done on the longe. This is done 
despite the fact that the colt, when on the longe, by this time may be 
cantering over small obstacles about two feet high. The points of most 
concern, when mounted work starts, are: allowing absolute liberty to 
head and neck; maintaining the same speed and gait before and after 
passing an obstacle; and approaching the centre of each obstacle perpen- 
dicularly. The rider should hold with one hand either to the pommel or 
to a strap around the horse's neck, in order to prevent being displaced 
and so alarming and hurting the colt through jerking his mouth or 
jarring his back. The reins, without exception, should be loose and 
floating when the colt actually crosses the obstacle. In fact, the reins 



THE PROGRAM OF FORWARD SCHOOLING 265 

should be floating at all times in these early lessons." (TRAINING 
HUNTERS, JUMPERS AND HACKS, English edition 1947, page 126.) 

Many years ago I witnessed the Chilean Army Team work their horses 
before the show in Madison Square Garden. Two or three of their horses 
were made to do the following exercise: while galloping to an obstacle 
at a good clip the rider would drop his reins about 40' away from it and 
either say ''whoa/' at which command the horse would stop in front of 
the fence, or cluck with his tongue, and the horse would go over it. The 
little control of the hands which these horses required resulted in their 
free-going and consequently natural way of jumping. This was in the 
middle thirties, when the Chilean Army Team was winning a great deal. 

When stabilizing the horse don't use your aids in the standard manner; 
your horse does not know them yet. Instead, remember that during the 
longeing the horse has learned to know two kinds of punishment: a jerk 
with the longe for going too fast, and a crack with the whip or a touch 
with it for refusing to go ahead. Utilize these punishments when mounted, 
but do everything possible to avoid having to resort to them often. Then 
your practical method of stabilizing the horse will come to the following: 
let us assume that you wish to start a trot; you give a voice command, if 
the horse responds, you pat him, if not, you repeat the command two or 
three times, each time raising your voice; if there is still no response you 
use the whip lightly, preferably on the shoulder. When the horse refuses 
to slow down from the voice you tighten the reins for a couple of seconds 
and if still there is no response you punish him with a slight jerk. The 
advice to punish always sounds cruel in print and, in the hands of a 
stupid trainer, it may actually be so. But you will be surprised how rarely 
you will have to punish the horse if you use your ingenuity in explaining 
clearly to him what you wish. 

It would be wise, in the latter stages of stabilization at a walk and trot, 
to practice changing, at first gradually and then abruptly, your schooling 
position to a galloping one, accustoming the horse to such sudden redis- 
tributions of the rider's weight as is sometimes necessary in actual ap- 
proaches to the fence. A horse accustomed to this will not rush madly for- 
ward the moment you begin the gallop and change your seat accordingly. 

Transfer from voice-commands to hand-and-leg signals. Stabilization is 
closely followed by another lesson, the transfer from voice-commands to 
hand-and-leg signals. This is achieved in the following manner: for in- 
stance, you wish to change from a trot to a walk; in the tone of voice to 
which the horse is accustomed you say "walk" and at the same time gently 
pull on the reins. If there is no response, repeat "walk" as many times as 
necessary, simultaneously increasing the tension on the reins. Don't for- 
get to pat when the horse obeys. Another example: suppose you wish to 
start a canter from a trot; you give a voice-command, if necessary repeat- 
ing it a second and third time, raising your voice each time, and at the 



266 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

same time you slightly urge with your legs. Gradually the horse will 
associate certain voice-commands with certain leg-and-hand actions and 
you can begin to lower your voice little by little and eventually to drop it 
entirely. 

If you are a good teacher and can explain your wishes clearly to the 
horse then you will succeed in replacing the voice by very mild leg-and- 
hand signals. Normally your first hand signal will be varying tension on 
both reins to slow down or stop the horse, while the first leg signal will be 
the signal with both legs used simultaneously to urge the horse forward 
into a walk or trot. 

Guiding lesson. During the same month you begin to teach the horse 
to turn in obedience to the action of one rein (leading rein) making very 
wide turns, circles, half-circles or changing directions diagonally across 
the arena; these constitute what are called "guiding lessons." 

Outside of the short moments when there is tension on the reins be- 
cause you are giving an order, riding during this month should be on 
loose reins, because the main aim of the month is stabilization of gaits. 

Stabilization of a "rusher" If you have the bad luck to own a horse 
which rushes his fences and you would like to teach him to approach the 
obstacles quietly, then, as a rule, the usual routine as applied to colts 
must be changed. The method used will have to be different for the 
reason that many horses which rush fences may be absolutely quiet and 
even stabilized at gaits. Rushing fences may be a habit which does not 
match the rest of the horse's performance and a horse perfectly sensible 
in general may, due to unfortunate experiences, lose his head the mo- 
ment he sees an obstacle. In this case you have to take up teaching a 
quiet approach to fences as a special problem. For this purpose you may 
use Cavaletti, which are described later in the chapter (fifth month), or 
you may resort to the following method: start a trot, aiming at obtaining 
a slow, sleepy gait on loose reins; then start to move toward a very low 
obstacle, perhaps merely a bar on the ground and, the moment the horse 
increases his speed, take him away on a circle (a wide one), sometimes to 
the right, sometimes to the left. At the "end of each circle, when again 
approaching the fence, watch for the slightest increase of speed: if it 
comes, make another circle. (Picture 79) You may have to make twenty 
or thirty circles before even stepping over a bar on the ground. The 
circles, I repeat again, must be wide, something like 60' in diameter; 
small circles may excite the horse. The fence, without wings, must be 
placed in the middle of the ring, thus enabling you to circle to the right 
and to the left, sometimes after approaching rather closely to the obstacle. 
The monotony of these circles can be broken by halts or halts with a few 
steps of backing at that time in the circle when you are facing the jump. 
In very bad cases you may have to confine your first lessons to a walk or 
you may start every lesson with one. In many cases Cavaletti are the 
efficient way of correcting a rusher who is generally stabilized except on 



THE PROGRAM OF FORWARD SCHOOLING 



267 



jumps; at least they may be very helpful at the beginning of the course, 
while circles, halting and backing may be added later to an approach to 
a normal, single fence. In any case, unless you have real luck, reclaiming 
a bad jumper is a tedious and disappointing business and in his case the 
normally simple problem of stabilization of the approach to an obstacle 
may turn out to be a complicated one. 

Halts. Don't forget to halt the horse frequently; it will save you a lot 
of trouble later if, from the beginning, you establish the habit o standing 



WALK 

OR 
HALT 



A 

t 
t 
I 
i 





APPROACH AT 

A SLOW TROT 

ON LOOSE REINS 

Pic. 79. Reclaiming a rusher. (See text) 

quietly. Therefore adopt the routine of standing still for about ten counts 
or longer, if the horse is fidgety. Frequent halts should remain on the 
program throughout the schooling, unless your horse is of a sluggish 
nature. 

Especially at the beginning and, as a matter of fact always, halts should 
be gradual. This means that if you wish to halt the horse at a trot you first 
bring him to a walk, make a couple of strides of it and then halt. If you 
halt from the canter, include a moment of trot followed by a moment of 
walk. Emergency halts, of course, are not governed by the above rule. 



268 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

With the improvement of the balance and agility of the horse the 
transition gaits can be shortened in their duration and, during the last 
months of schooling, when the horse knows semi-collection, the transition 
gaits can in some cases be eliminated altogether without jeopardizing the 
softness of the horse. In such cases an abrupt stop will come naturally 
without your asking for it. The horse will do it for you by himself just 
because he is equal to it, perhaps without even flexing at the poll. 

Longeing. It would be a good practice to longe the horse for about 
twenty minutes before mounting him. Thus you can get rid of all the 
bucks the horse may have in him on certain days and establish coopera- 
tion before putting your foot into the stirrup. Throughout your schooling 
here and there you may resort to the longe. You will find it useful at times 
when, for one reason or another, the horse needs merely light exercise; or 
when the horse hasn't been worked for a few days and is extra fresh and a 
pasture is not available where he can be turned loose to work off his 
excess energy. In this respect I don't think it is wise in general to mount 
fresh horses and give them the experience, which can easily turn into a 
habit, of misbehaving while mounted. This is not the time to show your 
boldness but rather your understanding of the horse's nature and your 
clever use of this understanding. 

You might also occasionally like to longe the horse over obstacles, even 
during advanced stages of schooling. There may be many reasons for this. 
Sometimes, for instance, a horse, after being jerked inadvertently several 
times on the jump may start jumping with the neck stiffly up. A longe 
may help you to restore his natural balancing gestures. 

Hacking. At this period your hacking should be at a walk only and on 
loose reins whenever possible. It is so important to implant in the horse's 
mind that going out is not an exciting business. If your horse becomes 
nervous when alone then hack as long as necessary in company with an 
old, quiet horse. 

Don't think that you are wasting time by hacking at a walk; it is a very 
important gait in the schooling and conditioning of a horse. A fast walk 
hardens tendons, flexes and relaxes all the joints, develops calmness and 
can be kept up for some time without unduly fatiguing the horse. No 
matter how far along you are in schooling, a walk is never to be neglected. 

3RD MONTH (IMPULSE FORWARD). 

Riding on contact. Loose reins whenever possible are gradually re- 
placed by riding on soft contact. The contact should be so soft that while 
it is being established it does not slow down the horse. Sometimes the 
voice or the legs may be necessary to prevent slowing down. 

When first changing from loose reins to contact, sneak up on this con- 
tact so gradually with your hands that neither is the gait disturbed nor 
the position of the horse's head and neck changed in the slightest. The 
same conditions should prevail when changing from contact to loose 



THE PROGRAM OF FORWARD SCHOOLING 269 

reins the horse should continue to maintain the same attitude, gait and 
speed. 

When teaching the horse to go on contact, continue to ride about one- 
third of the time on loose reins. As a matter of fact, it is a very good rule 
to adhere to throughout your schooling and later in your riding; it rests 
the horse's mouth and keeps it soft. 

To establish contact when riding a sluggish horse an almost constant 
use of legs will be necessary (until the impulse forward is developed). 
The legs should be used merely to establish contact and to keep the 
horse alert, but not for increasing the speed; this should remain the 
ordinary one. 

Impulse forward. After approximately two weeks of riding on soft con- 
tact begin to develop impulse forward, which means quick, energetic but 
quiet response to the rider's mild legs. Teaching this requires tact and 
can hardly be satisfactorily explained in print. It is something like this: 
suppose you wish to increase the speed of the trot; you have given a mild 
signal with your legs and the horse has not responded. By no means begin 
to use the legs harder and harder, ending with a series of kicks it will 
eventually dull the horse's sides. Instead, the moment that there is no 
response, give the whip; then repeat the procedure several times if neces- 
sary. In my own experience I don't remember a case where I did not 
succeed in obtaining good results within fifteen minutes and without 
exciting the horse in the least. A daily repetition of the lesson should 
establish a decent, although at first awkward, impulse forward within 
approximately ten days. 

Don't confuse impulse with speed. Impulse is keenness, alertness, energy 
of movement, willingness to go forward; it may or may not be trans- 
formed into speed, A fast movement may have impulse, which means 
energy of action combined with reserve energy, or it may not. On the 
other hand, a slow movement may have plenty of impulse. In the case of 
a schooled horse, impulse can be controlled with soft hands. While in 
the case of a badly-ridden, unschooled horse it degenerates into mere 
pulling. 

During a movement with impulse (as always) the neck and head must 
remain extended; to be exact, the neck should naturally come up a little 
but the head must remain out. 

Moving forward on the bit. When impulse forward is added to riding 
on contact then you have a horse which begins to move on the bit, 

Again, don't forget that a cross-country horse must take the bit with 
the neck and head extended (not arched and with the chin in), The ten- 
sion on the reins should still be light but somewhat stronger than when 
riding on comparatively passive contact; at first the horse may resist by 
tossing his head or by trying to jerk the reins out of your hands. Con- 
sidering the discomfort of the horse, the periods on the bit should be 



270 



GOMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 



very short at first; one long wall o the arena is plenty. Riding on the 
bit greatly improves the movement by making the horse move in one 
piece, for the horse takes the bit as the result of the increased energy in 
the action of the hindquarters. 




1. The average attitude of the 
neck and head that the colt 
should have at the beginning of 
the schooling and for some time 
afterwards. 



2. The carriage of the neck 

and head that the horse should 

gradually acquire through 

schooling. 



3. An incorrect carriage that a 

field horse should never have 

except during short periods of 

semi-collection in schooling. 



Pic. 80 



THE PROGRAM OF FORWARD SCHOOLING 271 

You may have the feeling that already during the first lesson the horse 
has taken the bit, but he will not have taken it. The horse may increase 
his leaning on the bit, but it will be a long time before the impulse 
starting in the hindquarters and travelling through the back and neck 
will reach the mouth, thus uniting the horse without disturbing his 
relaxed attitude. As a matter of fact, during all your nine months of 
schooling you will be preoccupied with moving on the bit energetically 
and softly. And it will take you a long time before you will be really 
able to feel it yourself. 

Years ago I had a very able pupil who upon learning advanced riding 
and schooling, spent one summer training three hunters. She was school- 
ing them almost every day, of course greatly concerned with teaching 
them to go on the bit. It was late in the summer when one day, while I 
was watching her school one of her hunters, she suddenly stopped and 
said to me: "You know, something very wonderful has just happened to 
me. For the first time I have really felt what having the horse on the bit 
means/' I am recounting this little incident not to discourage you but to 
caution you there are many degrees of being on the bit, beginning with 
a worthless one and going on to very valuable ones. Having the horse 
on the bit energetically and at the same time softly is one of the finesses 
of riding on the advanced level. On the intermediate level, soft contact 
or having the horse mildly on the bit is all that is required. 

Coming back. The development of the impulse forward and of going 
on the bit must be taught simultaneously with an obedient, relaxed slow- 
ing down, which is called "coming back" and which is obtained by 
means of "give and take." Don't fail to observe this rule, for if you 
should push the horse more and more ahead without developing coming 
back at the same time, you are taking the chance of making a puller. If 
you are tactful in teaching the coming back then, during the next month, 
while increasing and decreasing speeds at a trot the horse by himself may 
begin to flex in the mouth when slowing down. Coming back exercises, 
usually practiced at a trot, should include frequent walks and halts. 

Entering the corners. This is an exercise which primarily teaches the 
horse obedience to the "rein of indirect opposition in front of the 
withers;" although this rein is not used alone but in combination with 
the inside leg and with the outside rein acting as a leading rein. 

This exercise can be efficient only if the corners of your ring are right 
angles; an oval ring does not present the problem. At first you perform 
the exercise at a walk and in the following manner: suppose you take 
the track to the right along the wall; when you are about 15' from the 
corner the horse normally begins gradually to leave the wall to cut the 
corner on a smooth arc. Prevent him from doing this by moving both 
your hands to the left to press the forehand to the wall and use your 
right leg to keep the body at the wall. In this case your right rein acting 



272 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

as a rein of opposition in front of the withers will not only keep the 
forehand at the wall, but will also slightly turn the head to the right 
the attitude which you wish to have when turning to the right. When 
you have prevented the horse from cutting the corner lead him into it, 
entering it as deeply as it is possible while preserving enough room to 
make a free, relaxed turn. It is very important to teach this combination 
of the reins to the horse at an early period of schooling, as it will be 
used quite often in different movements such as the canter departure, 
sometimes circling, etc. In an oval arena teach this by making the horse 
move flat against the fence. 

Canter departure disregarding the lead. In early schooling a calm 
canter departure, with a horse holding his neck and head stretched for- 
ward and straight^ is more important than obtaining a specific lead. 
Attempts to do the latter as early as the third month of schooling may 
make the horse tense. 

Jumping (boldness). As to jumping, the big item is still the approach 
and the next step you take is not toward raising the height (although you 
may gradually raise it by half a foot) , but toward the establishment of a 
quiet and bold approach to obstacles of different shapes and colors. If 
these are kept low, well within the present abilities of the horse, then 
the fact that the bar is red, or that it is a picket fence instead of the so-far 
familiar post-and-rail, will rarely make the horse nervous or inclined to 
refuse. The necessity of showing a new obstacle to your horse is thus 
eliminated (which is extremely important) and your horse learns to face 
any kind of unfamiliar obstacle boldly; some day in the hunting field this 
will give you great satisfaction and make you proud of your horse. As a 
part of this work, frequently change the position of your fences. Don't 
use solid fences (see next month's text). 

Hacking. You should not work the horse every day in the ring; there 
is no question but that the ring-exercises are boring and fatiguing to the 
horse and he may begin to resist just because of this. Work four times 
a week in the ring and on the other two days take him for a walk with an 
occasional trot in the fields and woods. And I hope you have a pasture; 
for if you have, you will have a happier and more cheerfully working 
pupil. 
Counter Canter. See text for the 5th month. 

4TH MONTH (AGILITY), 

Now the horse has been mounted for two months; he has gained in 
strength and begins to acquire the knack of carrying you. This strength 
supporting this knack means better balance. But, of course, the retrieving 
of natural balance under the weight of the rider is far from achieved. It 
will take all of nine months; and all the exercises in this program are 
helpful toward this end. The growing general agility of the horse will be 



THE PROGRAM OF FORWARD SCHOOLING 273 

particularly helpful. But when I say "general agility" the phrase is so 
truly general that it doesn't mean much. More specifically it consists 
primarily of three kinds of agility: longitudinal flexibility, lateral flexi- 
bility and ability for skilful lateral displacement. 

Longitudinal flexibility means the ability to shorten and extend the 
back and neck. Its presence will make the balancing efforts on a straight 
line much more effective. Lateral flexibility is the ability to bend the 
spinal column laterally. It will help the balancing efforts on turns. Ex- 
ercises in lateral displacement, developing sidewise movements, will help 
balance in both cases. 

Increase and decrease of speed at a trot. The first exercise in longitu- 
dinal flexibility is very simple: while trotting at an ordinary speed you 
increase the speed somewhat, for about half of the ring, then return to 
an ordinary one and then slow down to a really slow, doggy trot to which 
you sit. At first the increase and decrease of speed should be so negligible 
that the exercise does not become a gymnastic and is merely a lesson in 
cooperation. As a matter of fact you have been doing almost the same 
exercise already when developing the impulse forward and the coming 
back. So that in a way, this exercise is a development of your work of 
the preceding month. But now, in about a week, you begin to increase 
and decrease the speed more abruptly, aiming at greater differences in 
speed. Gradually, by the time you reach the sixth or seventh month, and 
if you ride on advanced level, your fast trot is already a semi-extended 
one and your slow trot a semi-collected one, while the ordinary one 
always remains the same. When this level is reached in this exercise then 
it has really become an exercise in longitudinal flexibility. 

Longitudinal flexibility is a very important factor in jumping, for dur- 
ing the jump the horse contracts and extends his back quite drastically. 
On this longitudinal flexibility will also depend the ability of the horse 
to adjust his stride for a correct take-off. 

Circular movements. Exercises in lateral flexibility and agility consist 
of different circular movements. The three to start with are circles, half- 
circles and half-circles in reverse; all of them large, the circles being about 
50' in diameter. 

You should practice them all together, and in combining them you 
should also include a straight change of directions diagonally across the 
arena. Thus you keep the horse alert, guessing what the next order will 
be and the lesson becomes a development of the guiding lesson as well 
as an exercise in lateral agility. 

Now that your horse probably moves decently on soft contact and 
even begins to move on the bit, it should be easy for you to keep him 
straight from nose to tail when moving straight and make him bend his 
body to accept the shape of a curve when moving on a circle. Of course, 
the circles are still too large to be a powerful exercise in lateral flexi- 
bility, but this is the beginning. Next month you will make them some- 



274 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

what smaller, then again smaller and finally, during your seventh month, 
you should arrive at a circle just 20' in diameter to be executed at semi- 
collected gaits. Rather large circles, but at fast gaits, are as important 
exercises as small ones at semi-collected gaits. (The latter at the advanced 
level only.) 

Circles requiring occasional use of one rein of direct opposition teach 
the horse obedience to this rein effect. 

Work on small curves, at slow gaits, bending the horse from the nose 
to the tail so that the curve of his body corresponds to the shape of the 
path along which he moves, is an exercise in lateral flexibility. But work 
on large curves at speed does not require the bending of the horse; the 
latter is even detrimental when speed is involved. On the other hand, 
working on large curves, at speed, poses problems which moving along 
a small curve at collected or slow gaits does not. 

First of all, at speed, the loss of equilibrium to the front is greater 
than at collected gaits. Then, at speed, the inclination of the whole 
body towards the inside is also greater. These two factors require of the 
horse greater agility in the constant restoration of the equilibrium lost 
both forward and to the side. So work at speed on large curves becomes 
an exercise in agility rather than in flexibility. 

In the hunting field, and today in many jumping competitions where 
speed is required and the courses are of the hunter type, agility rather 
than flexibility at turns is necessary. On the other hand, in the tight and 
tortuous courses of open jumping, and of those of some recent horse- 
manship classes, flexibility may be of importance. 

I say that flexibility merely may be of importance, because many horses 
who began their work on large circles keeping themselves straight (but 
in early lessons when the head may turn to the side of the turn) even- 
tually preserve the same attitude when skilfully making turns along a 
small curve. This straight attitude being on the whole advantageous in 
jumping tight courses (for jumping soon after a turn), the question arises 
whether the development of agility in schooling a horse is not more im- 
portant than that of flexibility. In my present opinion (1962), develop- 
ment of flexibility for flexibility's sake should be pursued only when the 
horse in question really needs it. For riders with such horses, the 
original text of the book on this subject should remain, but this addi- 
tion should be noted. 

Half-turn on the forehand. The first exercise in Lateral Displacement 
is the half-turn on the forehand executed from a halt. It teaches the 
horse to yield the hindquarters to the action of one leg used a few inches 
behind the girth. Obedience to this use of the leg makes it easy to keep 
the horse straight later during backing and in many other movements; 
furthermore, it prepares the horse for future two tracks which is a power- 
ful exercise in lateral displacement. 

Because the horse's hindquarters are much more easily displaced 



THE PROGRAM OF FORWARD SCHOOLING 275 

laterally than the forehand, the half-turn on the forehand has little 
value as a gymnastic; it is rather a movement which teaches a leg signal. 

In teaching the half-turn on the forehand try to keep the reins loose 
most of the time and swing the quarters around step by step, pausing for 
a few seconds between each step. In other words, give as gentle as prac- 
tical a push to force the quarters to make one short step to the side (help 
with the whip if necessary); check any possible movement of the fore- 
hand with the reins, then relax your leg and the tension on the reins and 
pat your horse. Make the next step as soon as the horse relaxes. The half- 
turn should be accomplished in approximately four steps. Don't forget 
that the horse's neck and head must remain straight] 

Of course, the half-turn on the forehand, as everything else in school- 
ing, should be practiced in both directions. Don't make more than one 
turn in the same place; always move between two successive turns. Half 
a dozen spread throughout the day's work should be enough. But when 
encountering difficulties you may want to make a dozen, executing them 
close together. 

Jumping. As to jumping, I have a reasonable hope of believing that 
after two months of stabilizing the horse's approach to the jump, the 
habit of going toward the obstacle quietly has already been established. 
If you have not raised the fences above the height recommended and 
have not disturbed the horse on the jump with your seat, legs and hands, 
then I am certain that this is the case. 

Once a relaxed, quiet approach has become a habit, you can take the 
next step and begin to develop a powerful jump. This is done at first 
over low but always broad obstacles taken at a trot; and this is why. 
Simplifying the matter, one can say that the efforts of the horse on the 
jump consist of a combination of three factors: impetus of the speed of 
the approach, push with the hindquarters, and acrobatics (balancing 
gestures, etc.) . At an ordinary trot, deprived of the impetus of the gallop, 
the horse has to depend on the strength of the push, and the broader the 
jump the more strength is required. Later, when the obstacles reach the 
height of about 3'9", acrobatics will also come into the picture. Your 
first broad obstacles should not be higher than 2'6" and not wider than 
about 3'. But you must vary them, continuing to develop a bold and 
quiet approach toward unfamiliar fences. 

With the above gradual and logical procedure you won't need any 
wings except on especially unfortunate occasions. The better teacher you 
are, the more rarely will such occasions present themselves in ideal 
never. 

A very much argued question is whether solid fences should be used 
or not in schooling jumpers. I am against them, and not merely for the 
obvious reason that they are dangerous for both horses and riders. The 
usual argument for them is that the horse learns to respect an obstacle 
and hence makes an extra effort to clear it. This, of course, is true. But 



276 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

it is also true that the majority of horses learn to be afraid of jumping 
at the same time and so begin to approach fences in a mentally tense 
state which, as 1 have pointed out many times, results in physical ten- 
sion and consequently in an unathletic jump. There is no question but 
that there are horses which will make a clean performance only if they 
have been made afraid of the jump through its solid construction or 
through poling, I am convinced, however, that the majority of horses, 
if properly schooled, will not refuse, run out or knock down fences con- 
sistently, for the simple reason that it is less trouble to take a fence clean 
than to run out, refuse and be punished or be hurt in knocking down 
the obstacle. 

There is a big difference between jumping solid fences in the hunting 
field where the horse is stimulated and alert, and jumping them alone 
on the familiar training ground where the horse, being bored by the 
routine, can easily go to sleep and become careless. 

One more argument: there is no question but that the average inter- 
national jumper jumps cleaner than the average hunter, but the former 
doesn't jump solid fences in competitions. 

I am convinced that the majority of those who resort to solid fences 
do so either because they don't know how to school horses or don't have 
time to school, and so are left with solid fences as a means of making 
the horse go clean by scaring him over the obstacles. 

Hacking. Hacking during this month should be done mostly at a walk; 
the periods of trot should be short and its speed never faster than the 
ordinary one. And remember that you must return to the stable with a 
cool horse. If your horse is inclined to shy don't get angry, don't punish 
him without analyzing the reason and treating it from the psychological 
point of view. 



MONTH (SEMI-COLLECTION AND SEMI-EXTENSION WITH SOME HORSES 
ONLY). 

Semi-collection (trot). For a whole month you have been doing the 
exercise in longitudinal flexibility the increase and decrease of the 
speed at a trot. Another two or three weeks of it and, all going well, you 
probably will be able to make rather sharp transitions from an ordinary 
to a slow trot and perhaps even omit the ordinary and change directly 
from fast to slow without upsetting the horse. If, for one reason or an- 
other, this doesn't work well, postpone these rapid changes of speeds for 
another two or three weeks. But if your horse responds to the transitions 
quietly, there are more chances pro than con that when sharply slowing 
down he will bring the hindquarters under, will raise his neck somewhat 
and will flex in the mouth and poll. Once the horse has acquired a soft, 
collected attitude it is a matter of the tact of your legs and hands to 
preserve this attitude while moving forward for a few steps. If you sue- 



THE PROGRAM OF FORWARD SCHOOLING 277 

ceed in this you will have a semi-collected trot. The main point to watch 
is not necessarily the engagement of the hindquarters, or a somewhat 
arched position of the neck and head, but the repeated flexions (about 
one in each stride) which insure the softness of the movement. 

If a soft, obedient "coming back" through give and take has already 
been achieved during the previous weeks of the exercise in longitudinal 
flexibility, then there is a good likelihood that the first flexion will come 
(as easily as I described) during your first order to slow down abruptly. 
However, nothing in riding works one hundred per cent and perhaps, 
due to the poor conformation of your horse or to his resisting mentality, 
or because of insufficient dexterity of your legs and hands, flexions may 
not develop; instead of slowing down softly, the horse will stiffen both 
in the poll and in the jaw, throwing the neck and head upward. The 
next ten minutes will tell you whether this was a passing misunderstand- 
ing or whether it is going to be a major resistance. If it turns out to be 
the latter, then you have to give special lessons in flexions. 

Flexions (direct). If flexions require special attention it may be worth- 
while to start teaching them dismounted; this is very easy. Place yourself 
on the left side of the horse in front of the shoulders; take the two reins 
in the right hand about six inches from the rings of the bit, and begin 
to pull toward the hands of an imaginary rider in the saddle. The pull 
at the beginning should be very gentle and should be gradually increased 
in tension until the horse relaxes the lower jaw; then drop the reins and 
pat the horse. If the horse refuses to flex even from a strong pull and 
merely brings the chin in while keeping the mouth firmly closed, then by 
light upward jerks raise the neck and head, take the reins one in each 
hand and make a gentle see-sawing motion. In case the horse tries to 
back when you ask him to flex, place him in a corner of the ring with 
his quarters to the fence. If you have the ability to explain to the horse 
what you wish of him, the above lesson shouldn't take more than ten 
minutes. Then mount and repeat the lesson while the horse is standing 
still. In this lesson squeeze with both legs every time before asking a 
flexion; this will prevent the horse from moving back and may, by push- 
ing him on the bit, make it easier to. obtain the desired result. If the 
horse overflexes or "drops the bit" by. making a big and quick nod, in- 
crease the pressure of legs and diminish the tension on the reins when 
asking the next flexion. 

The third lesson in flexion should consist in obtaining flexions while 
changing from a walk to a halt. The horse must flex just before halting; 
in other words, a halt must be achieved through flexions, thus insuring 
its softness. But this may not happen at first, and the horse may only 
flex after he has halted. This should not disturb you, for a few days of 
work will straighten out the matter. 

The fourth lesson should consist of changing from a trot to a walk 
through flexions, and the fifth lesson of flexions used when changing 



278 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

from a faster to a slower trot. Considerably later (probably in. one month) 
the horse will be ready to flex when slowing down at the canter. 

In general, in all the slowing down, halting and backing (that is, in 
all cases when the tension on the reins is increased), flexions should be 
present as the natural outcome of this increased tension. On the other 
hand, when moving forward, the horse should flex continuously only 
during the short periods of semi-collected gaits, which are obtained with 
an increased tension on the reins. As you know, the semi-collected gaits 
are used as gymnastics only; in actual riding, the horse must move with 
neck and head extended and you don't wish to lose this attitude through 
overdoing flexions and semi-collected gaits. Therefore, you should re- 
member a very important rule: after every semi-collected period, or after 
backing or halting or slowing down with flexions, make certain that the 
horse resumes his ordinary gait with the neck and head stretched for- 
ward. A well-schooled horse will stretch his neck with the first strides of 
the free movement forward. 

Semi-extended trot. While trots faster and slower than ordinary are 
developed simultaneously, when the horse is ready for semi-collection 
and semi-extension, it may be necessary to choose which to start with, 
so that the one will not interfere with the progress of the other. As a 
rule, over-ambitious horses do better if semi-collection is taught first, 
while lethargic animals benefit from the stimulation of extension, and 
consequently it is advisable to teach them extension before attempting 
the extreme slowing down. 

If, when trotting fast, you were to increase the pressure with the legs, 
at the same time increasing the tension on the reins in order to prevent 
the horse from trotting still faster, and if all this were tactfully done, 
you would be able to lengthen the strides through further pushing of 
the hindquarters and the corresponding extension of the fore-limbs with- 
out gaining much in speed. 

Don't make more than a full ring of an extended trot, slowing down 
somewhat along the short wall. Normally periods of extended trot should 
not be longer than a diagonal change of directions or one long wall of 
the ring, if your ring is of the size of Olympic Games requirements (ca. 
65' x 195') . Half a dozen such periods a day are sufficient. 

Increase and decrease of speed at the canter. If your horse is by now 
well stabilized at the ordinary canter and will not get upset if you should 
increase the speed, then begin the standard longitudinal flexibility exer- 
cises at the canter by increasing the speed to somewhat faster than ordi- 
nary and decreasing back to ordinary. Perhaps toward the end of this 
teonth you will even be able to decrease the speed to slower than ordi- 
nary without breaking into a trot. The slow canter, largely depending on 
the balance and agility of the horse, may not come out well for another 
month or so. But once it does you are around the corner from semi- 



THE PROGRAM OF FORWARD SCHOOLING 279 

collection (for some horses only), which your horse knows already at a 
trot. 

For a while, to keep the horse cantering slowly and without breaking 
the gait, you probably will have to use your legs and hands quite strenu- 
ously. To avoid dulling the horse's sides and stiffening his mouth your 
periods of semi-collected canter should be very short not longer than 
half of the long wall of the ring. After each such period canter a full 
ring on loose reins. As I have already suggested on several occasions, 
skip semi-collection and semi-extension when schooling on the inter- 
mediate level. 

Canter departure on a specific lead. I assume that until now, when 
desiring a specific lead, you have always started the canter either on a 
circle or on a turn of the ring, and that the fact that the canter started 
on the correct lead was not so much due to obedience to certain aids as 
to the physical position in which the horse was placed. However, the 
association of your aids with a certain lead unquestionably has taken 
place in the horse's mind and now it is merely the matter of emphasizing 
this association. There may be many ways of teaching the horse the 
canter departure on a desired lead while moving on a straight line; I 
would suggest the following procedure: 

While cantering, let us say on the right lead, change directions diago- 
nally across the arena and somewhere between the center and the next 
wall, stop the canter, trot a few strides (as few as possible) and begin the 
canter on the left lead just at the moment when the horse is reaching the 
wall and about to take the track to the left. (Picture 81) Due to this turn 
and the habit of cantering on the left lead when going to the left, you 
will probably obtain the correct lead, so pat the horse and walk him im- 
mediately. After a walk for something like one length of the long wall, 
resume the procedure. Gradually make your interruption of the canter 
and new canter departure earlier and earlier so that eventually it will 
take place in the center of the ring, while you are moving straight. By 
now it will be almost entirely in response to your signal, although the 
association in the horse's mind of the canter departure with turning 
upon reaching the wall will remain a help. The next lesson will consist 
of eliminating all the assistance of the association of place with the 
movement by starting a canter on either lead while moving straight 
along the middle line of the ring. 

Another way of teaching a canter departure would be by starting a 
half-circle at a trot and beginning the canter just before reaching the 
wall. (Picture 82) In my work I usually use the first method because it 
saves time by teaching two things at once the canter departure and 
change of leads. However, if too much cantering upsets your horse at this 
stage of his development, then you would be wise to start your canters 
from a trot at the end of a diagonal change of directions (Picture 83) or 



280 



COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 



RIGHT 
LEAD 



TROT 



LEFT 
LEAD 



Pic. 81 



I 




1 

I 


X'"^\ 


\ 


X 1 


\CANTER 
\ ^.* 


X TROT x '' 




|8b ^ 



Pic. 82 



/' TROT 



' ^ . CANTER ON 
Av LEFT 



Pic. 83 



f TROT LEFT LEAD 
1 | 

RIGHT LEAD 



Teaching canter departure on a specific lead. 



Pic. 84 



THE PROGRAM OF FORWARD SCHOOLING 281 

from half-circles begun at a trot. Beginning with this for a few days may 
be an easy introduction to the lesson as I originally described it. Even- 
tually the canter departure on any given lead, or changes of lead with 
interruptions, should be made on a straight line. (Picture 84) 

Throughout these lessons your attention should be concentrated on 
having the horse move straight and in a relaxed manner. 

Serpentine and Zig-zag at a trot. Serpentine and Zig-zag (see Pictures 
71 and 72) are variations of circular movements and, if compared to an 
ordinary circle, are of interest in the development of the lateral flexi- 
bility of the horse because they require constant alternate bending in- 
stead of continuous bending in one direction. The short curves of the 
Zig-zag also require a quick engagement of one or the other of the hind 
legs (always the inside one). 

Both of these exercises also lighten the forehand and lighten it pro- 
gressively as the changes of direction gradually become more abrupt. 

The execution of these movements at a trot leads to their execution at 
a gallop; in this case, the counter gallop being involved, the exercise 
becomes an even more important gymnastic. 

The counter gallop. The first lesson in counter gallop should consist 
in merely making a corner of the ring (if your ring is at least 65' wide) 
while maintaining the outside lead. For instance, take the track to the 
right, start the canter on the right lead, change direction diagonally 
across the arena and keep on galloping on the same lead while making 
the first turn after reaching the opposite side of the ring. Then walk 
your horse and pat him. As soon as it comes out softly, make two corners, 
then four. Within two or three weeks you will be able to make a large 
circle^ 

Or you may start teaching the counter gallop by merely galloping on 
curves with a large radius. Large half-circles or half -circles in reverse may 
also be useful. 

The speed of the counter gallop should be somewhat slower than the 
ordinary speed at the canter. During the counter gallop the horse must 
remain relaxed and soft in the mouth; he will if the size of curves are 
large enough for his present ability. 

The counter gallop is one of the exercises for the improvement of the 
horse's balance and general agility; it also helps to put the horse on the 
bit. It is a forceful exercise and I know at least two internationally- 
known trainers of jumpers who consider it as one of the most im- 
portant ones. 

There is a certain relationship between the counter gallop and the 
flying changes of lead. If the flying changes are taught first then the horse 
may easily take up a change of lead as resistance every time the counter 
gallop is asked. This schooling program takes this fact into consideration. 



282 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

Counter canter (counter gallop). Almost all of my junior pupils begin 
to participate in easy jumping competitions before their horses are com- 
pletely schooled; one can hardly stop them from doing so. This poses 
certain problems, one of them being turns between obstacles. 

In many cases a horse will change the lead during a jump, and thus 
the following situation may arise: a horse going to the right, and gallop- 
ing on the right lead when approaching the last fence on the long wall, 
changes the lead on the jump, and consequently finds himself on the 
outside lead when making the turn (I assume the horse cannot yet 
execute the flying change of leads). If he is not at ease making the turn 
on the outside lead it will require quite a few strides after the turn, 
for him to reestablish a good balance, and if the next fence is near the 
turn he may approach it badly and will be at a disadvantage at the 
take-off. Many jumping competitions are lost because of inability to 
negotiate turns skilfully. 

Taking this into consideration, I now teach, whenever possible, the 
counter gallop (counter canter) early in schooling earlier than I 
originally placed this movement in my schooling program. With com- 
pletely green horses I teach it as soon as I start the work at a canter. 
At this time the horse, not yet schooled to the signals for canter 
departure on the desired lead, will start the canter in a hit-or-miss 
fashion as far as leads are concerned. And if it so happens that he 
starts on the outside lead I ask a much longer canter than if he were 
to start on the inside lead. Since the colt is too awkward to attempt to 
change leads, and is prevented by the rider's legs from losing the gait, 
it is easy to keep him at the counter canter. It should be repeated daily 
until he is comfortable at it. 

This early counter canter, coinciding with the lessons on stabilization 
of the canter, should be practiced as much as possible on loose reins. 

Only after the colt canters with equal ease on either the outside or 
inside lead, do I begin to teach the canter departure on a specific lead. 
This procedure in schooling enables my pupils to show their incom- 
pletely schooled horses with greater success. 

In cases, however, of schooling horses with a couple of' years of ex- 
perience of being ridden, teaching the counter canter is much more 
complicated. By then they are usually in the habit of cantering always 
on the inside lead, and will try to change back into it, either by inter- 
rupting the gait or by making a flying change. In such cases the counter 
canter has to remain in its original place in the program of schooling. 
Thus the program has the counter canter in two places one for com- 
pletely green horses and the other for semi-green ones. 

Jumping (acrobatics). In jumping you continue to work on a quiet 
approach to all gaits, on developing boldness by jumping low obstacles 



THE PROGRAM OF FORWARD SCHOOLING 283 

of different descriptions and on developing flight by jumping wide ob- 
stacles also of different forms and colors. Depending on the progress of 
your horse, in the course of the month the height may be raised (by from 
3" to 6") and the width may be extended (perhaps by 1'). 

There are many ways of achieving the above aims. As it actually hap- 
pens, there is no way which can be considered universal. Different meth- 
ods may suit different horses. In this respect I would like to discuss 
"Cavaletti," the very name of which implies their Italian origin. I 
describe them here, for I particularly would like to recommend them as 
a means to develop in your horse an acrobatic jump, which is the main 
object of this month's work over obstacles. 

The Cavaletti consist of several bars (perhaps seven) on the ground in 
the middle of the ring, placed at intervals to fit the stride of the trot of a 
particular horse. Begin by placing the bars 4' 3" apart, and subsequently 
alter the spacing to suit your animal's stride. It is important to have all 
distances equal. Flank the last bar with standards. 

The Cavaletti should at first be crossed at a walk and afterwards at a 
trot on loose reins, the rider remaining in a jumping position. As soon 
as the colt calmly negotiates the Cavaletti at a trot, raise the last bar 
(the one that is flanked by standards) to about 6" (perhaps at first at one 
end only) . When further raising the height, pick up the next-to-the-last 
bar and place it also on the same standards, thus giving the horse a 
take-off area of at least 8'6". In the early stage of schooling the jump 
should be about 2'6". After negotiating the Cavaletti, move straight 
forward for about 75' before turning alternately to the right or to the 
left; always turn on a wide arc and return (again making a wide turn) 
to your starting area, something like 75' away from the Cavaletti. 

It is very important to present obstacles to the colt as a part of the 
routine of a trot. Normally, therefore, don't start a trot at the last 
moment of the approach nor drop back to a walk immediately after a 
jump. Continue, instead, on an even rather slow trot for about five 
minutes and in the course of this repeatedly cross the Cavaletti. 

The Cavaletti are made progressively more difficult by raising or 
broadening the fence or by shortening or lengthening the take-off area. 
After raising your fence to 3' or higher, you will normally enlarge the 
take-off area (so not to cramp the horse) by moving the standards some- 
what further away from the grid (perhaps 1' for every additional 3" to 6" 
of height; perhaps little more, perhaps less. It is important that, at 
the beginning, the size of the take-off area be comfortable for the horse. 

Besides helping to calm your colt's (or a ruined jumper's) approach to 
an obstacle, the above-described simple use of the Cavaletti gives other 
important results: 

1) Practically all horses while negotiating the Cavaletti (if calm) lower 
and extend their necks. Thus a horse acquires the habit of approaching 



284 



COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 



fences with the neck and head in the best attitude to make strong 
"balancing gestures" during the jump. 

2) The distance between the bars on the ground can be adjusted to 
cause the horse either to lengthen or to shorten his stride. While the 
latter may sometimes be desirable in the case of too eager a horse, the 



Pic. 85 



o on Q o a 



Pic. 86 



o 



o 




Cavaletd. 

normal adjustment for a calm horse must be such as to lengthen his stride 
somewhat. This gives the horse the habit of making the last strides of 
the approach more alertly, while consistently maintaining the rhythm of 
the gait. 

3) If the take-off area is correctly adjusted for the height of the fence 
and for the individual peculiarities of the horse, then the horse is given 
practice in taking off at the distance which for him is most advantageous. 
Accumulation of such experience will tend to develop a habit. 

4) When jumping at a trot, the horse, being deprived of the impetus 
of the gallop, is forced to use his muscles more strenuously and, on higher 
jumps, even to resort to acrobatics ("use himself") . 

For the most efficient use of Cavaletti, in later schooling, over higher 
fences, the trainer must analyze the jumping defects of his horse and 
arrange the Cavaletti so as to promote more efficient efforts. If, for 
instance, the horse has a tendency to take off too late, climbing fences 
(while going at them boldly), the trainer should widen the jump and 
lengthen the take-off area enough to force the horse into making a broad 
jump, but he should be careful not to make the take-off area so large 
that the horse will be tempted to take an additional short stride and 
come in too close. If, on the other hand, your horse consistently takes off 
too early (without rushing) it usually means that he does not know how 
to give a sufficiently strong upward thrust with the forehand, either 



THE PROGRAM OF FORWARD SCHOOLING 285 

because of muscular weakness or because of clumsiness. To correct this 
defect: a) the fence at the end of the grid must be vertical and high 
enough to require from the horse a thrust with the forehand, b) the take- 
off area must be wide enough to give the horse room for a normal 
take-off but too short for an early one, c) the jump should neither be 
so high nor the take-off area so small that the horse may consider the 
situation hopeless. 
To recapitulate: by means of Cavaletti you can develop in your horse: 

1) stabilization of the approach to the jump; 

2) lengthening or shortening of the strides of the trot during the 
approach; 

3) lowering of the neck and head during the approach; 

4) the thrust upward with the forehand during the^take-off (short 
take-off distance); 

5) the thrust upward and forward with the hindquarters during the 
take-off (a long take-off distance); 

6) the use of the back and the neck during the jump. 

One cannot make a jumper exclusively with the use of the Cavaletti, 
since they can be negotiated at a walk and trot only; the horse has no 
opportunity to learn how to figure the approach at a gallop, nor to ac- 
quire a knack of jumping from that gait. Consequently, jumping multiple 
in-and-outs will eventually be an absolute necessity. 

In reclaiming ruined jumpers (those who rush fences and are so upset 
emotionally that they are physically stiff and jump in bad form) the 
Cavaletti often work wonders. The technique of using the Cavaletti in 
such cases is fundamentally the same as the one described above for 
schooling colts, but with the following differences: 

1) Calm walking, on loose reins, even merely over bars on the ground, 
may at first be impossible, and the horse may have to be controlled all 
the time while ridden over the Cavaletti. In order to break the rush 
forward, the trainer may even be obliged to halt the horse before, in the 
middle of, or immediately after the Cavaletti. And even after a quiet 
walk over the bars has been achieved, it may take a while before it can 
be duplicated at a trot. 

2) For a while one should jump only with the help of the Cavaletti. 

3) It may be necessary to change gradually from the Cavaletti to or- 
dinary fences by removing the bars on the ground, one by one, leaving 
the last bar before the jump to the last. 

Hacking, Assuming that the horse by now is well stabilized at the 
ordinary canter in the ring I would suggest your adding the canter to 
your hacking, both on loose reins and on soft contact. 

You should hack alone as well as in company with other horses and in 
the latter case make a point of being sometimes ahead and sometimes 
behind the others. 



286 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

GTH MONTH (TRANSITIONS). 

Short, simple programs. A good performance doesn't consist merely in 
good gaits and individual, well-executed movements. Quick, precise, soft 
transitions between gaits, speeds and movements form an important part 
of the horse's performance. You have been working already on some of 
the transitions when, for instance, decreasing and increasing the speed at 
a trot and canter or when interrupting the canter to change the lead. 
Now the time has come to ask more of the horse by assembling every- 
thing that the horse has so far learned into a program of three to five 
minutes' duration, to be executed for precision's sake from letter to letter, 
as in the schooling test of the Olympic Games. And do not forget to 
include about three obstacles, distributing them throughout the program. 
See the Program Ride in the Complete Test for Hunters, Chapter XIII. 

Half-turn on the haunches. The half-turn on the haunches develops the 
mobility of the forehand, prepares the horse for future two tracks and 
teaches correct response to the combination of a leading rein (sometimes 
of direct opposition) with the rein of indirect opposition in front of the 
withers. It also prepares the horse for the short turn at the gallop. 

You can teach the half-turn on the haunches either in place or with 
movement forward; the latter method would be better on horses with a 
tendency to back when learning the turn. If teaching in place, begin only 
after a few seconds of relaxed standing still and make the turn in sections, 
halting and patting the horse after each step; the turn must be accom- 
plished in four such steps, each step covering 45 of an arc. Be certain 
that the tension on the reins is negligible and release it completely upon 
halting after each step. Once the horse executes it very quietly, connect 
the individual steps. If you have decided that, in the case of your horse, 
teaching the half-turn on the haunches while in motion is better, then 
do it either along the wall at a walk (as in the first method), merely 
eliminating the original halt as well as the halts after each step, or do 
it by making a series of circles (at a walk), each successive one being 
smaller than that preceding it, and finally achieving the turn on the 
haunches. During such a turn the horse will be moving forward more 
than is desirable and the hindlegs will describe a circle perhaps three or 
four feet in diameter. Little by little you will be able to cut down the 
amount of movement forward. If your horse has a lot of natural lateral 
flexibility, then the method of diminishing circles may work well even 
when used during this month. But if your horse is stiff in the sides he 
vwill be very awkward in making the small circles (even at a walk) which 
we have not reached yet in our program of schooling. In such a case 
(if you insist upon this method) you will have to postpone the turn on 
the haunches until better lateral flexibility has been developed. 



THE PROGRAM OF FORWARD SCHOOLING 287 

Personally, I have never had to resort to circling in teaching this turn 
and have never had difficulty in getting it in place at the wall, sometimes 
after halting, other times while moving. Furthermore, I don't neces- 
sarily like teaching it from a circle, for quite often this requires too much 
tension on the reins. I have described it here only as a sample of how 
differently sometimes the same movement can be taught. Even if never 
actually used by you this method can serve you as an example of how to 
use your imagination while teaching your horse. 

Backing. Never teach backing before the horse is decently on the bit, 
as it may put him behind it, nor before he has learned flexions, as in 
that case he will back at every increase of tension on the reins (when 
teaching flexion in place). However, with ambitious horses, reluctant to 
slow down, you may need to teach backing four to six weeks earlier. 

Your first lesson in backing should consist of about four steps back 
after a halt from a walk, followed by a resumption of the walk. Second 
lesson the same thing from a trot. Third lesson the same thing from 
a canter. There may be only a couple of weeks in time between the first 
and second lessons but it will probably take a month or more before 
backing can be executed softly from a canter and followed by an im- 
mediate resumption of the gait with the neck and head stretched 
forward. 

The horse must back in response to the give and take of your hands, 
keeping the head and neck in the normal relaxed (stretched) position. 

If you encounter resistance and the horse requires a very strong pull on 
the reins to force him to make a step back, you should ask someone to 
help you. This assistant, holding a whip, should place himself in front 
of the horse and tap him on the legs every time you gently increase the 
tension on the reins. In such cases a couple of steps at a time will suffice 
and the horse should be patted after every step. If tactfully done this les- 
son can be explained to the horse in a couple of periods of from five to 
ten minutes each (on two successive days). If you can think of a better 
way to explain to the horse that you wish him to back merely from a 
slight increase in the tension on the reins go ahead and try it; the 
essential thing is to teach backing without pulling hard on the horse's 
mouth; the method makes no difference. 

Few things in schooling can be achieved in a mechanical manner. The 
trainer must always think of ways to get around whatever resistance is 
encountered. As an example: some horses, when taught to back with the 
help of an assistant will step back from his whip, throwing up the neck 
and head. In many cases this could be overcome by the assistant offering 
the horse a piece of carrot, thus inducing the horse to stretch out his neck 
in reaching for it, and only after this happens beginning to tap the horse's 
legs with the whip, giving the carrot only after two or three steps back 
have been taken. 



288 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

Short Turn at the Gallop (See definition in Chapter IX) 

This turn should be taught only after the turn on the haunches (first 
in place and then at a walk) has been mastered by both horse and rider. 
To teach it, place two standards about 40' from each other at one end 
of your schooling field; let the pupil gallop toward these so as to make 
his turn on the inside lead, going toward the left standard if he is on the 
right lead and toward the right standard if on the left. During the last 
two or three strides before the standard, he should reduce the speed 
abruptly and then make a 180 degree turn within the standards at 
diminished speed. The moment the turn has been made, the original 
speed should be quickly restored, the pupil galloping back toward the 
starting point. Little by little move the standards closer together, even- 
tually placing them perhaps only 20' apart, or even less. 

The rider should not try to turn the horse with one rein, but instead 
he should use his aids as in the turn on the haunches that is, swing 
the forehand around rather than simply make a small half-circle. The 
horse's neck and head and body must remain straight throughout the 
turn; the bending of the horse in the side and curving of his neck and 
head which may be required in making really small circles at slow gaits, 
should not be present in this case. This turn can be made at a counter 
canter, rather awkwardly, in most cases. 

Two tracks. In the course of this month you can also begin the prepara- 
tory work for two tracks. To accomplish this you must do the following: 
walk briskly down the middle of the ring on loose reins and, after repeat- 
ing it to insure long strides, the third time begin to use one of your legs 
somewhat behind the girth (as in turn on the forehand), to push the 
horse to the side, still keeping the reins loose. You should expect that in 
the course of a walk of approximately 150' the horse will deviate to the 
side by about 10' to 15' only. This may seem too little to you but it is 
sufficient for the first lesson. The main point is that the horse continues 
to move forward with long, free strides, his neck and head in their 
normal, stretched attitude. As with all other exercises, practice it in both 
directions, working the horse more in the direction of his stiff side (if he 
still has one). 

In a couple of weeks the horse, understanding your leg and becoming 
more agile, will deviate considerably more, still preserving long strides. 
By then your horse will already know the half-turn on the haunches and 
you will be able to improve your two tracks by riding the horse on soft 
contact and leading his forehand by your hands (as in .the turn on the 
haunches). The neck must still remain stretched, the head slightly 
turned in the direction of the movement. The important thing is that 
the strides must continue to be long. In other words, the horse must 
always move more forward than sideways. Only then is this exercise of 
any value to your jumper. It is beneficial in two ways: when two tracking 



THE PROGRAM OF FORWARD SCHOOLING 289 

to the right the horse has to make an exaggerated engagement of the 
left hindleg and a strong extension of the left fore. The reverse takes 
place when two tracking to the left. Your jumper needs agility of the 
hindlegs when engaging them for the take-off, while he needs the exten- 
sion of the forelegs for a safe and soft landing. This, by the way, is one 
of the reasons why we value long, sloping shoulders in a jumper. 

One caution: never teach this oblique movement along the wall, as it 
was always taught in the past ("travers" and "renvers"); this shortens the 
horse's steps and, although such an oblique movement, particularly at 
a collected gait, may be very effective as a spectacle, its short steps make 
the exercise useless for a cross-country horse. 

Today, in 1962, I no longer consider that Two Tracks is of real 
importance in making hunters and jumpers. It is, however, an excellent 
exercise for developing the cooperation of the rider's legs and hands 
in controlling both the positive and negative efforts of the horse. I use it 
today mostly for this purpose that is, for educating the rider rather 
than the horse. I have retained the original text, however, for the use 
of those people who may disagree with my present point of view. 

Serpentine and Zig-zag at the gallop. These exercises involve the 
counter gallop, for if you make a serpentine or zig-zag maintaining the 
same lead you will be half of the time on the counter gallop. Both of 
these exercises are wonderful gymnastics and after your horse knows the 
flying changes of lead these two movements offer you an opportunity to 
check how obedient he is to your signals (by not trying to change the 
lead). 

The curves should be always kept large enough for the horse to be 
comfortable; they should be diminished only with progress in the horse's 
balance and agility. The horse must remain soft during the counter 
gallop. 

Stop the horse every time he changes the lead and begin the movement 
anew; pat him if he keeps the lead. 

Change of leads with short interruption** This obviously is a develop- 
ment of the former lesson of making changes with long interruptions. I 
am devoting a few lines to it just to emphasize the fact that the approach 
to the future flying change must be gradual; if it is not, you will upset 
the horse. If your horse is excited during the trot between the two gal- 
lops, anticipating the new departure, then you should replace the trot 
with a full stop, a stop long enough for the horse to relax completely. 
After such a relaxed halt has been obtained, walk a couple of steps, then 
trot for two or three strides and only then start the canter on the new 
lead. It may take you several days to straighten the thing out. 

Jumping. In jumping, as in everything else, most of this month's work 
consists in perfecting things previously learned; The new item on your 



290 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

agenda is teaching the horse to "figure" his take-off at the gallop the 
gait which he will actually use in the hunting field and horse shows. 

When I was young, riders tried to teach horses this "figuring" by con- 
trolling the horse's last three strides and then giving him the order to 
jump. In the great majority of cases the results were unsatisfactory be- 
cause forcible control was upsetting to the horse and, although the take- 
off might take place on the correct line, the jump itself would be stiff. 
Furthermore, the horse was becoming dependent on the rider's placing 
him and very few of us can go over a serious jumping course without 
making one or two mistakes in placing the horse. 

Now, teaching the "figuring" of the take-off, we create a certain condi- 
tion which automatically develops this knack in the horse while he enjoys 
full freedom when approaching the fence. As in everything else, there are 
many ways of doing it and no way can be recommended without knowing 
the horse in question; perhaps the particular horse that you own will 
require some adjustments of any method which I may suggest. But, as 
general suggestions of what to do let me give the following: 

1) Build a quintuple (five-fence) in-and-out. Start with all rails on the 
ground; walk and trot the horse over the combination on loose reins, 
maintaining an even, rather slow speed by occasional checking; keep 
yourself in a galloping position. If the horse takes this calmly then begin 
to raise the fences the last fence first, next the preceding one, and so on. 
The first rail goes up the last. When all fences are 2 / 6" the distances 
betweeri them should be 18' to 20' (Picture 87); this should give one full 
stride of gallop between the fences. Canter quietly to the combination on 
loose reins with the legs doing no more than maintaining the necessary 
impulse. With all the training which your horse has previously received 

JL 




Pic. 87 

I don't expect him to refuse or run out; but if he does, then start with 
still lower fences. Your horse may take off too early or too close on the 
first fence. This doesn't matter, since the correct take-offs for the follow- 
ing fences are indicated by the distances between them. So you are 
bound to have four good take-offs against one bad one; the score is in 
your favor and time will develop the habit. When raising fences you 
have to increase accordingly the distance between them to suit the stride 
and the comfortable take-off of your horse -he must have a free stride 
between fences. 

Upon reaching a height of over 3' don't use more than four fences, 
and when eventually you come to V fences a triple in-and-out will be 
sufficient, with distances of 24' between obstacles. 



THE PROGRAM OF FORWARD SCHOOLING 291 

2) When the take-off over the quintuple in-and-out which I described 
has become regular, begin to vary the combination. For instance, your 
first fence may remain a 2'6" vertical, the distance between it and the 
next fence allowing for one stride; the second fence is again a vertical 
but a few inches higher; after it there is an increased distance which 
allows two strides and the third fence consists of parallel bars about 3' 
apart and 3' high. After it the space again permits of only one stride 
and the fence is a vertical of, let us say 3'3". You may play with this 
set-up, making all sorts of combinations, mixing the heights, the type 
of jumps and the distances. (Picture 88 illustrates a combination where 
all fences are 2i/ 2 ' high.) PARALLEL 

BARS 




Pic. 88 

Your first gallops to the combination of jumps intended to teach 
"figuring" must be slow. But with the improvement of the horse's 
technique you should increase the speed, providing that it does not 
excite the horse. 

When making different combinations you must keep in mind all the 
peculiarities, good and bad, of the jump of your horse, and particularly 
notice whether he is inclined to take off too early or too late, and arrange 
combinations yourself to correct the particular faults of your horse. 

The correct figuring of the take-off does not merely depend on the 
horse's ability to calculate it mentally but also on possession of the neces- 
sary skill to put this calculation into practice. This means that the horse 
must be able to lengthen and shorten his strides at will. This is where all 
the exercises in longitudinal flexibility pay off. 

Some naturally clever and longitudinally flexible horses will learn to 
take off correctly practically without any special work. But if natural 
abilities are lacking then, as a rule, it is not the physical but the mental 
side of the matter which may give you the more trouble. A French 
proverb says "When one is dead it's for a long time; when one is stupid 
it's for ever/' 

Hacking. You probably began your hacking in company with an old 
and quiet horse, later you have done most of it alone, perhaps sometimes 
in company with a couple of friends. Now, as a step toward future 
hunting, I think you should look for opportunities to hack in large 
company. When hacking with a group of horses, make a point of being 
sometimes at the head and at other times in the middle of the crowd or 
behind it. If your horse behaves equally quietly in all three positions 
you are lucky. Being gregarious by nature, he probably will hate to be 



292 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

the last, particularly if the distance between him and the other horses 
is 100' or more. There is nothing that you can do with your legs and 
hands to correct this; it is a case of uncontrolled emotions and there is 
no rule that can be given you to overcome this difficulty. But again, if 
you have studied the character of your horse, if you know his peculiarities, 
you may know what to do to combat this mental obstacle. You cannot 
do it just with the aids; your approach must be that of a psychologist. 
(See "Special Exercises for Hunters" at the end of this chapter.) 

Many horses easily acquire the habit of working quietly in company. 
Some temperamental horses learn it only with time and practice. Others 
never do, no matter how well they are schooled; these may perform very 
well individually but be impossible in the hunting field. There is nothing 
that can be done about such cases; some horses are adapted to one type 
of work, some to another. This factor is often not taken into account, 
although horsemen have talked about it for ages. As early as the middle 
of the 17th century the famous English horseman, William Cavendish, 
Duke of Newcastle, said in his book: 

". . . if the horse is fit to go a Travelling pace, let him do it, if he is 
naturally inclined to make Curvets, he must be put to it. ... If none of 
these suit him, he will perhaps be good for racing, hunting, or for coach 
or cart. . . . He that is qualified to be a bishop is not fit to command an 
army; nor he that is fit to be a secretary of state to be keeper of the seals." 

This is why when buying a hunter I think it is wise to search first for a 
suitable mentality and only secondly for a good conformation always 
hoping, of course, to find a horse which combines both. 

VTH MONTH (THE ULTIMATE IN RING GYMNASTICS). 

In a way, you are now reaching a critical moment in your schooling. 
This is because the time is approaching when you will have to analyze the 
performance of your horse and decide whether he does all his exercises 
athletically enough for his future work as a hunter or jumper. You are 
not through with schooling yet; cross-country work is still ahead of you. 
Furthermore, you will be repeating the exercises he already knows for a 
couple of months and the execution of them is bound to improve. But, 
considering all this, you must decide whether you have to make a special 
effort to achieve more refinement in the execution of some of the move- 
ments. When contemplating this subject don't be carried away by the 
beauty of perfection; never lose sight of practical ends. As I have already 
said, all the benefits of physical development derived from these exercises 
are exhausted long before perfection of execution is reached. If you were 
planning to be a Dressage rider it would be different; then the very aim 
of your riding and of the competitions in which you would take part 
would be a perfect two tracks, a perfect change of leads, etc. In our case 
all these movements are not ultimate aims in themselves but are merely 



THE PROGRAM OF FORWARD SCHOOLING 293 

the means to develop a strong, safe, pleasant hunter or a dependable 
jumper. However, the performance of your horse may not be even; due 
to some mental or physical peculiarities he may execute some movements 
better than others. You may consider it necessary to equalize them and 
now is the time to do it. 

In Chapter IX on What Is A Good Performance Of The Horse, I have 
described the good and the bad in different movements. In ideal you 
have now reached the good and to avoid too much repetition I will be 
brief in my description of how your horse should perform during this 
seventh month. 

Emotional state of the horse. Whatever has been achieved during'the 
previous six months should not have been at the expense of disturbing 
the horse's natural calmness. Today your horse should do two tracks, 
change leads and perform other movements in the same quiet state of 
mind in which he walked on loose reins half a year ago. And even more 
than that, for now you should be able at will to increase the alertness 
and impulse of the horse to a reasonable degree without upsetting him 
in the least. This increase should be merely the turning on o a tap, and 
as easily turned off. If you haven't achieved at least seventy-five per cent 
of this ideal (in an individual performance, anyway) you have failed in 
your schooling. 

Physical state of the horse. Your horse today must be as sound as on 
the day you began to work him. While it will be easy for you to notice 
any change for the worse in his emotional state, you may be apt to over- 
look the beginning of unsoundness until it begins to make the horse 
lame. Hence I believe in having a consultation with your veterinary 
every two months, even though, to your knowledge, there is no reason to 
worry. Even if the doctor doesn't detect anything wrong lie may, taking 
into consideration the points of your horse's conformation and his age, 
suggest reducing the amount of jumping or galloping or circling, etc. As 
a precautionary measure the advice of a veterinary is particularly im- 
portant if your horse is less than four years old. 

Balance. Now, after six months of work, the horse has enough strength, 
agility and knack of carrying a burden to move under you with good bal- 
ance. The early stumblings have disappeared completely and, more than 
that, the horse doesn't feel awkward and heavy on the front; his gaits, 
turns, stops and changes of speeds are now skilfully done and give you 
in general a feeling of lightness combined with firmness of foot. Each 
of the exercises (including jumping) that you have practiced has con- 
tributed to the development of this balance. 

A further improvement in balance will take place during the next 
two months when you will be working in the open, particularly when 
you begin to ride cross-country over varied terrain, up and down hill 
and so forth. 



294 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

Ordinary gaits. All the ordinary gaits by now should be efficient, the 
horse moving forward with long, flat, free, regular strides. Furthermore, 
at all gaits the actions of forehand and hindquarters are harmoniously 
connected, the horse moving in one piece. This connected movement is 
exhibited by the horse not only when he is urged forward on the bit, but 
even when he is ridden comparatively passively on contact, perhaps even 
when on loose reins. Ordinary gaits are not spectacular but they are the 
"backbone" of the horse's performance. 

Semi-collected gaits (as an exercise only. These gaits are now energetic 
but soft, the horse flexing every stride and walking calmly on loose reins 
if desired, immediately after the termination of each semi-collected 
period. The above qualities should exist already, at least at a trot; at a 
canter you may be still two or three weeks away from the goal. 

Semi-extended trot (as an exercise only). Now, at the semi-extended 
trot, the horse does not move at his full speed but engages his hind- 
quarters considerably and energetically extends his fore limbs, thus 
pushing every stride ahead of his body. This is a strenuous and stimulat- 
ing movement; be careful not to overdo it. 

Fast gallop. You really haven't had a fast gallop yet. You will start 
it in a month when you begin to work cross-country. So far, during your 
hacking you shouldn't have cantered faster than what the horse can do 
in the ring which isn't much of a speed. But, just the same, it is faster 
than the ordinary canter and I hope it is absolutely quiet; it should be. 
Up to now you shouldn't have dared to increase the speed of the gallop 
beyond the point at which the horse remains calm. 

The halt. At a walk, of course, for a long time you have been able to 
halt the horse abruptly; also at a semi-collected or a plain slow trot. It 
still probably takes something like 10' to halt the horse from an ordinary 
trot, and probably not less than 20' is required to come to a halt from an 
ordinary canter. That is, if you wish to do it softly. In an emergency, by 
using your hands harshly, you can always halt the horse much more 
quickly. But even when aiming at softness the formerly long intermediate 
periods of going from a canter to a trot, from a trot to a walk and from a 
walk to a halt are now considerably abbreviated. 

The horse halts squarely and stands quietly for any length of time, al- 
though not necessarily as immobile as a monument. You have achieved 
the above results merely by making frequent and tactfully executed halts. 

Transitions. All the transitions between gaits and movements are now 
sufficiently rapid, precise and soft. For instance, it probably takes you 
now no more than two sections of a fence (something like 20') to change 
from an ordinary to a semi-extended or fast trot, no more than two strides 
of a trot as interruption when changing leads at a canter, and about 10' 
to make a transition from an ordinary to a semi-collected or slow trot. 
The main thing is that during at least seventy-five per cent of these 
transitions the horse remains soft let us hope so anyway. 



THE PROGRAM OF FORWARD SCHOOLING 295 

You may find out that by now it is easy for your horse to start a canter 
from a walk. And if he does it without throwing his head up and without 
making a small upward bounce at the departure then include it in your 
program. 

Naturally, the main test for the smoothness of transitions remains in 
the execution of a program which includes all the movements learned. 
By now your program is already approximately on the level of the train- 
ing test of the Olympic Games; as a matter of fact, you can try to execute 
it. If you should consider doing so I would suggest your re-reading Chap- 
ter XIII, MODERNIZING THE IDEAL and altering the program, re- 
placing most of the collected gaits with ordinary ones, and adding two or 
three jumps. 

When schooling a horse you ought to change the program quite often, 
presenting constantly unexpected combinations to the horse. But if you 
are working on a program for demonstration purposes you should do just 
the opposite that is, make up a definite program and repeat it every 
day. The horse's memory and cooperation will be valuable in softening 
the transitions. 

Circular movements. Gradually decreasing the size of your circles, in 
the course of this month, you should be able to make small circles merely 
20' in diameter, both at the semi-collected trot and semi-collected canter 
(as required in the Olympic Games). To insure softness during such a 
confined circular movement you should teach the horse "lateral flexion" 
which is a side retraction of the lower jaw in response to the increased 
tension on one rein. (With some horses only. See text on Flexions.) 

I hope the lateral flexion will come as naturally as the direct flexion 
may have with your horse. But if it doesn't you may have to give the horse 
a couple of dismounted lessons. I doubt that it will be necessary; but if 
it is, the technique of teaching lateral flexions in hand is identical with 
the teaching of direct flexions. There is only one difference one rein is 
used instead of both. 

Don't make many of these extremely small circles, for a circle of about 
40' in diameter, made at ordinary gaits, is a sounder (although milder) 
lateral flexibility exercise for your future hunter. 

When making small circles watch for the relaxed attitude of the horse. 
This is possible only if the size of the circle is diminished very gradually, 
in accordance with the progress of the horse. If not, the horse will become 
heavy in hand, will lose the regularity of his gait and will throw his 
hindquarters outward, will "skid' 7 with them. A slight skidding can be 
controlled with the outside leg without further stiffening the horse, but 
not a big skidding, which is trie result of asking more of the horse than 
he is yet capable of doing. 

Serpentine and Zig-zag at a trot and canter, and half-circles and half- 
circles in reverse at a trot should also remain on your daily program, as 



296 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

lateral flexibility exercises; but now you may wish to use the last two also 
at the canter as an instrument for changing leads or for the counter- 
gallop. These half-circles may help you in obtaining your first flying 
changes. 

Turns in place. I expect your horse now to know by heart both the 
half-turn on the forehand and half-turn on the haunches, and to execute 
them on soft contact in place and, if required, to stand quietly before 
and after. 

Two tracks. I am certain that your two tracks at a walk is good, that 
you have begun to execute it at a trot and that there you still have dif- 
ficulties: sometimes the horse doesn't move forward enough and his hind- 
quarters begin to lead; at other times he loses the obliquity of move- 
ment and makes a few steps of mere change of direction. But probably 
another two or three weeks of it will straighten up these matters. 

If the horse begins to lead with the hindquarters turn the horse's front 
with your hands more in the direction of the movement; increase the 
speed of the gait by using the leg on the side of the direction of the move- 
ment (its action will also decrease the movement of the quarters in this 
direction), and diminish the action of the other leg which has moved the 
horse too much to the side. 

If the horse's defense consists of losing the angle of movement by in- 
creasing the speed, then halt him, give him the correct angle, make a 
few steps of two tracks at a walk, maintaining this angle, and then con- 
tinue it at a trot, keeping the latter slow. 

If your horse happens to execute the two tracks particularly well, just 
for fun, you can execute, without any special lessons, what is called a 
counter change of hands at two tracks. It consists of making about six 
steps to the right (this is the number of steps required in the Olympic 
Games), then six steps to the left, then again six steps to the right and so 
forth. The only difficulty you will encounter in this movement will be in 
changing from one direction to another without leading with the hind- 
quarters during the first couple of strides. To overcome this make one 
straight-going stride in between. This exercise is unnecessary in making 
hunters and jumpers; it is in Dressage that a big point is made of it. But 
as long as an imperfect execution of it is easy, you may enjoy doing it. 
Also, for the same reason and to no special advantage to your horse, you 
might like to do ordinary two tracks at the canter; neither will this re- 
quire special lessons or special technique. 

Backing. Probably by now your backing after halting from a walk and 
trot is good and you may have begun to back after halting from a canter, 
resuming the gait immediately afterwards. This is a powerful exercise in 
coming back, engagement of the hindquarters and impulse forward. In 
general, it develops great agility and is one of the most important exer- 
cises for a jumper. 



THE PROGRAM OF FORWARD SCHOOLING 297 

Don't attempt to start a canter immediately after the last step of back- 
ing because your horse, not being collected, doesn't have his hindquarters 
under him, and the canter departure from such a comparatively extended 
position is bound to be awkward and strenuous for the horse's hocks and 
loins. Upon completing backing, walk the horse forward for about one 
full stride and then begin the canter; that is if your horse knows the 
canter departure from a walk; otherwise you will have to make another 
stride or two of a trot. 

If you were ever to have the good fortune to see the military teams of 
different nations work their horses before an international competition 
you would notice that this exercise (almost immediate canter departure 
after backing) is very important with most of them. 

Changes of leads (flying). I expect that by now your horse is able to 
change quietly and softly with a very short interruption with luck, 
flying. 

Just one flying change is all that cross-country riding requires. You 
may for fun teach your horse to make several consecutive changes, but 
this is sort of extra-curricular and of no importance. The important 
points are that the horse should go free (while changing leads), straight, 
and maintain the regularity of the gait, not plunging after changes. You 
will probably reach this flying change in the course of this month. 

As I have already pointed out in the chapter on advanced riding, 
there is no special technique involved in the flying changes of lead and 
success in getting your first change depends on asking it on the day 
when you feel your horse has acquired enough skill to respond to your 
demand. This skill, as you know, is developed by gradually cutting the 
number of intermediate trotting steps between the original gallop and 
the new departure. In the course of my life I have obtained the flying 
change of lead with many horses at the first asking. The trick is in know- 
ing the day. 

Jumping (simple courses). The general schooling and the exercises over 
obstacles which you have been doing for the last six months now should 
be apparent in the performance of your horse in the following ways: 

1) Alert calmness combined with boldness. 

2) Even, relaxed gaits during the approach. 

3) Impulse forward not necessarily combined with speed. 

4) Obedience based on knowledge of signals, and on the habit of 
cooperation. 

5) Correct figuring. 

6) Strong flight. 

7) Skilful acrobatics. 

In developing the jumping technique of your horse you have for a long 
time been using several obstacles in different close combinations, where 



298 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

the whole set-up aimed to promote nothing more than one specific jump- 
ing effort, although there were occasional exceptions to this rule. Now, a 
course is something very different: every obstacle in the series is intended 
to require some different quality in jumping or in galloping to an ob- 
stacle or galloping away from it; it is in this respect that a course is a 
test for the horse's ability to solve various jumping problems. Hence, a 
well-constructed course consists of a series of different problems in jump- 
ing, and during the gallops between fences. This last element, the 
galloping, is extremely important and many horses which can leap high 
lose their heads completely if they are galloped over even as few as three 
fences, particularly if the latter are far apart. An illustration of this is to 
be seen in every open jumping class. 

Your first course should be laid out on flat ground outside the ring; it 
should consist of approximately eight different obstacles; it must have a 
couple of changes of direction on wide, comfortable turns and it should 
take about two minutes to gallop over it. 

And what if you don't have a field in which to set up an outside 
course, and unfortunately have to do all your jumping in a comparatively 
small, enclosed arena? Here is the unpleasant truth: throughout the 
description of the program of schooling I have been assuming that those 
of my readers who wish to undertake schooling had adequate facilities. 
These consist of country for hacking, of open fields for galloping, of a 
large enclosed (not necessarily covered) ring in which you can work 
alone for at least an hour a day. An outside course is just one of the 
requisites, but it is an extremely important one in making a hunter or a 
real jumper. However, a decent jumper for small arena competitions 
can, of course, be made by practicing over courses crowded into a riding 
ring. In this respect no special advice can be given without knowing 
exactly the individual physical limitations of your surroundings. Just 
make the best of them. 

Corrective jumping. Although from now on jumping courses is your 
main jumping problem, jumping exercises over single broad obstacles, 
Cavaletti, etc., remain on your program. The necessary resumption of 
your old work of one type or another will be indicated to you by the 
performance of your horse over courses. When going over them you 
should note the defects of your horse's going or jumping. Very possibly 
your horse will begin to lose calmness or flight or the use of the back and 
neck, or correct figuring; any one of these faults ought to mean that you 
stop going over a series of obstacles and return for a while to the work of 
one of the previous months. I am certain that in the course of the next 
three months this will happen two or three times, and each time it will 
take something like three days to restore the horse's original performance. 
If you are slow in detecting the appearance of a fault, it will take you 



THE PROGRAM OF FORWARD SCHOOLING 



299 



considerably more than three days to correct it. Above all, be careful not 
to lose the alert calmness and the resulting relaxation in jumping. 

Among the faults in jumping which may have been appearing for a 
while, and which became conspicuous when you began jumping courses, 
may be (I hope not) the following: 

1) Your horse, although jumping correctly in every way, may knock 
down fences too often, even though they are well within the range of his 
ability. This may be the result of insufficient effort; in other words negli- 
gence, or a physical inability to fold the legs, or because of not looking at 
the top of fences. 

Insufficient effort. Insufficient effort may, in many cases, be corrected 
by adding an iron pipe, li/" in diameter, to the obstacles. If you place 
such an iron pipe on a level with the top bar of the jump and about 6" 
in front of it, you will induce the horse to take off earlier and with 
greater strength. This is called passive poling. (Picture 89.) 




Pic. 89. A light iron pipe 
placed on the take-off side 
about 6" in front of the top 
bar will make horse stand well 
back when taking-off and jump 
higher. Use when a horse with 
well-developed flight becomes 
careless. 



Pic 90 



BOO 



COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 



In case the horse knocks the jump down, usually by the hind legs 
dropping too soon, place the iron bar on the landing side of the jump. 
The most effective part of the iron pipe is the unexpected and startling 
sound it makes when hit. 

The fault of dropping the hind legs is often the result of the rider 
either being left behind or not giving enough freedom to the horse's 
neck and head. So, before using the iron pipe, make certain that you 
yourself are not at fault. 

Insufficient folding of the legs. If the insufficient folding is merely due 
to negligence, then passive poling may take care of it. But if it is the re- 
sult of slow-acting muscles which haven't learned the knack of getting the 
legs out of the way quickly, you are facing a difficult problem. A triple 
bar, requiring from the horse a progressive folding of the legs, seems to 
be the most effective means of correction, particularly in combination 
with passive poling. (Picture 90.) Another way is to jump low fences up 
and down slopes. (Picture 91.) 




Pic. 91. Jump up-and-down-hill fences if the horse doesn't fold. A low triple 
bar will enable an awkward horse to fold gradually. 

Mere poling, passive or active (active poling means hitting the horse's 
legs with a pole by raising it in one way or another), may take care only 
of cases of sluggishness but not of physical disabilities. In the latter case 
it may make the horse jump higher but will not teach him to fold. 
Because of more effort he may clear the fence but his legs will still be 
hanging down. 

Not looking at the top of the fence. Some horses, approaching the 
fence, don't look at the top of it as they should, which doesn't meant at 
all that in order to do so the horse has to raise his neck. This, by the way, 
is the reason why I have nowhere recommended putting a bar on the 
ground a couple of feet in front of the obstacle to make the horse take 
off earlier. This "take-off bar" (on which I was brought up), while work- 
ing well with some horses, makes others look down instead of up. If it is 
necessary to teach the horse to look over the top of the fence use post 
and rail fences, concentrating two or three bars near the top and having 
nothing below them. (Picture 92.) 



THE PROGRAM OF FORWARD SCHOOLING 



301 



Pic. 92. Jumps heavy on the 
top will teach the horse to 
look over the top of obstacles 





Pic, 93. Use cross bars to teach jumping over 
the center of the obstacle. 

2) Jumping the obstacle off center. If your horse begins to jump close 
to one post or the other instead of jumping over the middle of the 
fence, use a cross bar jump, or place some frightening object on the side 
of the jump toward which he usually swerves. (Picture 93.) Be certain 
to take care of this fault as soon as it appears and before it becomes a 
habit. 

3) Jumping bias. To correct bias jumping use low parallel bars and 
take them diagonally at a gallop. Jump this obstacle at the slant opposite 
from the one at which the horse likes to take it (Picture 94.) 

Rapping (poling). Poling does not have to take the cruel forms which 
it sometimes does. Intelligent rapping will help some horses. As a perma- 



302 



COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 



nent part of a system it is used only by those who don't know how to 
make a jumper. 

Lt. Col. Lombardo di Cumia of the Italian International Team lately 
said in print: "rapping should serve to make a horse, who already jumps 
correctly, jump a little higher, but should never be used to train a horse 
who is jumping badly/' Major Jan de Bruine, captain of the Netherlands 
International Team wrote recently: "Perhaps I am mistaken, but I do 
not believe in poling. I have made many faults after having been rapped 
by a 'professor' while I have made clean courses without being poled. 
Passive poling on the other hand, is very useful and is understandable 
to the horse." 




Pic. 94. Diagonal jumping at a gallop will correct the defect of jumping side- 
ways. The obstacle must be of a broad type. 

These two quotations express very well my belief on the subject. But if 
in the case of your horse, poling is necessary, then there is a serious ques- 
tion should it be done over high or low fences. A French authority, 
Y.Benoist-Gironiere, says: "poling should be done on a medium-sized 
obstacle and not over mountains." And Major de Menten de Home of 
the Belgian International Team says that the obstacles for poling should 
be: "even small." While Count de Maille, one of the outstanding 
civilian riders of France, has the following opinion on the subject: "I 
say very small." (The foregoing quotations are from CONCOURS HIPPIQUE, 
by Y.Benoist-Gironiere, Paris, 1949.) 

One of the obvious inefficiencies of active poling is the fact that the 
horse learns to associate it with one or two men (necessary to do it) 
standing at the fence; consequently to be done effectively, it has to be 
operated from far away by a pulley. As you probably know, poling with 
electric current is now regarded favorably by many. 

I personally try all sorts of means to make the horse alert and careful 
of the fences before I resort to poling. There are many ways of doing it 
and it presents an open field for your imagination. For instance, if you 
ask someone to stand at the fence and when the horse is about 30' from it 
to grasp one end of the upper bar, raise and lower it into position again 



THE PROGRAM OF FORWARD SCHOOLING 303 

rapidly, the horse will overjump the obstacle. Again, if you do this too 
often the horse will associate a man standing at the fence with the 
raising of the bar. 

Hacking. Obviously, you will stress in your hacking whatever happens 
to be the most difficult. If your horse doesn't like to remain behind other 
horses you try to make him to do so, and if he is restless when alone, 
thinking of his friends left behind in the stable, then you hack him 
alone, developing the habit of being without the herd. As to the new 
additions to your hacking program I think by now a low jump can be 
taken here and there. It will constitute a practical application of some- 
thing learned in the ring and a preparation for future cross-country 
jumping. 

STH MONTH (WORK IN THE FIELDS). 

The new part of the work of this month consists in practicing exercises 
already learned in different locations on large, flat fields. The main pur- 
pose of this is to teach the horse to work in different surroundings, for 
otherwise the habit of performing well only in your own back yard can 
easily become established. I usually combine it with hacking in the 
following manner: leaving the stable I hack for about twenty minutes at 
a walk and trot to limber the horse and then stop in a suitable field for 
something like ten minutes to execute a program consisting of all or 
some of the movements my horse knows. Then I resume my hacking, rest 
my horse, and in about twenty minutes, in another field, again repeat 
some of my ring exercises, in a program or singly, whichever is necessary, 
and so forth. The next time I do this work I take a different direction to 
do the same sort of thing in different surroundings. 

There may be two reasons for your occasional return to work in the 
ring: 

1) The physical condition of the fields; for instance, the grass may be 
too tall or the ground too soft after all you don't want to chop up 
someone's fields and there may be other purely local reasons. 

2) You may wish to return to the ring to correct a defect which has 
suddenly appeared in some movement, or to execute your program with 
precision, which is possible only in a ring marked with the usual letters 
or other signs. 

All in all, the work on schooling exercises in. the open will probably 
be limited to a couple of days a week, because galloping, jumping over 
courses and corrective jumping, as well as corrective riding in the ring, 
will take a great deal of your time and of the horse's energy. 

Galloping. For a long time you have been cantering in the ring and 
while hacking. From the very beginning the speed of your approximately 
ordinary canter has been regulated by the behavior of your horse, which 
means that you have gone only as fast as was practical for preserving the 



304 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

calmness o the horse. At first it was somewhat slower than the ordinary 
canter and I hope that little by little you have been able to increase the 
speed to somewhat faster than that of the ordinary canter. I also expect 
that you have gradually lengthened the duration of the canters, being 
guided by the increasing stamina of your horse. By now your horse should 
be able to canter for about seven minutes at a speed of something like 
ten or twelve miles an hour without any harm to his health. Up until 
now a faster or a longer gallop would probably have been taking chances. 
But, from now on, you should make a point of increasing the speed to 
eighteen miles an hour, and at the very end of the ninth month it will 
perhaps be easy for your horse to keep up this speed for as much as ten 
minutes. Not knowing your horse and his present condition I have to be 
rather indefinite in giving you speeds and durations of gallops; all the 
above suggestions are on the safe side. 

In consideration of the fact that your horse is still young and has not 
yet reached his greatest possible development in agility, balance and 
strength, these first gallops in the open country should take place on 
large, level fields free of stones and holes. The length of your gallops is 
limited by the horse's breathing and general fatigue, and the speed by 
his excitability. During a faster gallop the horse must take a firmer hold 
of the bit. 

Jumping. Gradually your courses should become more complicated and 
this process should proceed along the following lines: 

1) Increase the number of changes of directions and gradually narrow 
the angles of some of the turns. 

2) Alternate long approaches to obstacles with short ones. 

3) As usual, all obstacles should be different in construction, some 
should vary in color and now they should be arranged in more difficult 
combinations than in the previous month. For instance, your normal 
triple in-and-out, with distances allowing for one stride between fences, 
can be changed now to a combination of the same obstacles with one 
stride between the first and second and two strides between the second 
and third fences. Later you may require your horse to jump this obstacle 
in both directions. And still later one of these vertical fences can be 
replaced by a broad jump. This is a typical example of how combina- 
tions of fences are made progressively more difficult. 

The number of your fences on the course may now be something like 
ten or twelve; the majority should be about 3'3", with three or four of 
them raised to 3'9". The courses should still be set on level ground, with- 
out wings, the fences being 20' wide. The horse should not be jumped 
over the same course more than twice if he negotiates it well. This 
doesn't mean that every two jumping days you have to change the 
course entirely; but about one-third of it should be replaced with dif- 
ferent fences, and you should change your route. 



THE PROGRAM OF FORWARD SCHOOLING 305 

You shouldn't be in a hurry to increase the complexity of your courses. 
You have not only this month but the following one in which to do it. 

9TH MONTH (WORK OVER VARIED TERRAIN). 

When you reach this month you should plan your jumping and the 
work on schooling exercises, in the open and in the ring, so that about 
two days a week are left for work across country. I do not mean to say 
that on these days all of your two hours are to be spent galloping up and 
down hill; such gallops, depending on the stamina and temperament of 
your horse, may consist of one period of ten minutes or two six-minute 
periods, or some other combination. In any case before your gallop or 
gallops, you have a long preliminary period of limbering up your horse 
something like half an hour; then you have a cooling off period on your 
way home- at least twenty minutes; then you may find it wise to make 
some specific relaxing exercises after the first gallop, if your horse has 
stiffened; or you may think it necessary to take over again one or two 
fences singly (several times perhaps), fences which were particularly bad 
during the gallop. Besides all this you will have to give the horse a long 
rest of, let us say, another twenty minutes between the two gallops on the 
day when you may have decided that two gallops of six minutes each are 
preferable to one gallop of ten minutes (all these durations of the 
gallop are approximate). All in all, two hours will be fully occupied by 
the preliminaries and the follow-up of your few minutes of galloping. 

For this work you should choose a part of the country which offers a 
variety of terrain fields, woodland paths, hills, fences, streams, etc. For 
the first two weeks of this month you walk, trot and occasionally canter 
the horse slowly over this country, taking fences at slow gaits, aiming to 
establish calmness as a preparation for gallops over the same terrain. 
During these two weeks you continue with fast gallops on level fields (see 
previous month), thus conditioning the horse. As I have already pointed 
out, your aim is a hunting pace, which is approximately eighteen miles 
per hour (and it is also the pace of most European jumping competitions 
and of our hunting classes over the outside courses); but this does 
not mean that you begin with this speed. After two weeks of preparatory 
walking, trotting and cantering you begin your gallops cross-country with 
a speed of approximately twelve miles per hour; you increase it as much 
as possible while preserving the horse's calmness, and you gallop only as 
long as the horse remains calm. It is very possible that you may find that 
for some time three gallops of four minutes each are more satisfactory 
for your horse than one gallop of ten minutes. But even if your horse 
should work with perfect calmness at a speed of eighteen miles per hour, 
you still should not maintain this speed throughout your gallop. You 
must vary the speed as a part of your transition work and occasionally 
you should even stop and walk or trot your horse for half a minute before 



306 GOMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

again resuming the gallop. Not for one second must a fast-galloping 
horse have the feeling that all the brakes are off. In other words, you 
should prepare your horse mentally for the actual work in the hunting 
field or over outside courses. The fact that your horse gallops quietly 
when alone is sufficient for the latter case, but is not enough for the 
hunting field. Therefore, occasionally you must do the same work in 
company. When riding with a couple of friends you may suggest inter- 
rupting the gallop at any time to bring the horse to reason, thus working 
toward establishing the habit of calmness in company. No such thing 
can be done later in the hunting field. These gallops cross-country not 
only prepare the horse mentally for his future work, and condition him 
physically, but also further develop his balance and general agility. 

As already mentioned, all the lengths of the galloping periods I have 
given are approximate, but they were worked out as simplifications of 
those in the Three-Day-Event. There the cross-country run at a speed of 
about nineteen miles per hour is Bi/ 2 miles long and has over thirty 
obstacles, which means that the gallop lasts about eighteen minutes 
this occurs approximately one hour and a half after taking a steeplechase 
course of a little more than 2 miles. It normally takes from two to three 
years to prepare a horse for this contest and, naturally, all the horses 
selected possess superior physical abilities. 

Jumping. In its essentials the work over courses remains the same as 
in the previous month, the courses gradually becoming more compli- 
cated. In the course of this month some of your fences should be raised 
to the height of 4'. 

END OF THE SCHOOLING PROGRAM 

As you see, the schooling program, even simplified as it is, is a long 
one and, while it is all new to you, you may easily become confused by 
the many directions along which the physical development of the horse 
is supposed to progress from month to month. To make it easier for you 
to see the whole at a glance I have included a chart (Table IV) which 
shows the relation between different exercises and desirable physical 
qualities in the horse; it is a diagrammatic summary of this chapter. 

Now you are ready to begin to hunt or to show. I wish to underline 
the word begin because, although your horse has had the basic schooling 
for these games, he hasn't had the experience of working in these special 
surroundings; furthermore, his conditioning is still not sufficient to with- 
stand a full day of hard hunting, nor has he yet had practice in negotiat- 
ing the really high fences necessary to win in any class that is listed on 
the program of a show. But what he needs from now on is not more 
schooling but merely practice, with perhaps an occasional return to 
schooling when things begin to go wrong. 

Horses don't stay schooled unless they are consistently well and sensibly 
ridden. Stupid riding in a couple of shows or in a couple of hunts may 



THE PROGRAM OF FORWARD SCHOOLING 307 

upset the horse so much that it may take one month of corrective school- 
ing to get him back to where he was. 

A well-schooled horse sold to a poor rider can become unmanageable 
in the course of only a few weeks. This all means that a schooled horse 
is a superior instrument only in the hands of an intelligent and educated 
rider. And, vice-versa, a good rider can demonstrate his skill only on a 
schooled horse. 

Schooling, as described in this program, even when used by a good 
rider in training average horses, does not guarantee one hundred per 
cent success. With casual approximation one can say that full success can 
be expected with only seventy-five per cent of the horses. The emotional 
make-up of some horses is such that they can never learn to go calmly 
when galloping fast with a large field, while the physical or mental limi- 
tations of others will preclude them jumping really big obstacles. But, 
just the same, schooling will improve even these cases, and a potential 
runaway will be merely nervous at times and a potential refuser will 
learn to negotiate average field fences easily. 

As I have pointed out many times, schooling doesn't aim to make a 
horse who merely stays with the hounds or wins ribbons. It is intended 
to make him pleasant to ride, that is, keen and cooperative, in the hunt- 
ing field or in the horse show, and to develop him physically to the point 
where he can participate in these games for many years without being 
crippled by work which is too much for a physically undeveloped horse. 

Unfortunately, our normal horse shows don't have any schooling com- 
petitions, hence the fascinating game of schooling a horse is at present 
a solitary one. Judging by my own reactions, this situation should be 
very disturbing to other trainers of horses, since we all like to demon- 
strate what we are able to achieve. In my case this takes the form of 
torturing my friends; a process which often backfires and tortures me, for 
so many nice people for whom I ride don't know a thing about riding. A 
demonstration of really good ordinary gaits (one of the main aims of 
schooling) , or of athletically negotiated 3'6" fences leaves them standing 
with blank faces, while a scramble over a 5' obstacle or two tracking 
like a crab makes them "oh" and "ah." This, by the way, is one of the 
reasons why I mentioned in the seventh month of the schooling program 
a few extra-curricular movements like the counter-change of hands at 
two tracks and a series of flying changes of leads on a straight line; 
unnecessary as these movements may be in schooling a hunter or jumper, 
an exhibition of them is bound to boost your own morale. 

And speaking of yourself, I believe that these nine months of schooling 
a horse will make a real rider out of you, even if the first product of 
your efforts turns out to be far from perfect. Schooling a horse is really 
the only way to understand the meaning of all the formulae of control. 
One learns the use of a certain combination of legs and hands only when 



308 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

he tries it on a horse who does not understand it. It is through the mis- 
understandings of the horse and his various types of resistance that one 
fully learns the cooperation of legs and hands with the efforts of the 
horse. But, as I have frequently said, only so much can be done with 
the legs and hands alone. Most good riding and schooling is done with 
the head. It is your understanding of the mentality of the horse and an 
imaginative approach to his emotions which really wins the day. The 
experience of schooling even one horse is most valuable in this respect. 
Horses don't read books, but a clever rider can establish a common 
language with his mount and with its help translate to him what he 
himself has learned through reading. 

I also expect that this chapter has opened up new vistas in riding for 
you, showing you that this sport does not consist merely in physical 
skill, but that it also contains many mental problems which can hold 
one's interest in riding long after a youthful fascination with purely 
physical activities is gone. I know so many people who dropped riding in 
their middle life just because the mature side of it was never presented to 
them. 

As a footnote to the description of the schooling program I am giving 
a sample of distribution of work during a lesson. I assume that this lesson 
takes place exactly in the middle of the course the end of the second 
week of the fifth month. I also assume that you have reached the working 
time of one hour and a half a day, that on this particular day you 
have decided to work the full time in the ring and that the horse did 
not have to be longed before mounting. 

As usual, this program of a lesson is not a rule. It merely tries to em- 
phasize certain important points, such as frequent and rather long rests, 
frequent halts, frequent changes of subject in order not to bore the horse, 
riding a great deal on loose rein, ending the lesson on a new exercise. 

10 min. Walk, mostly on loose reins, to limber up the horse, with about two 
turns on the forehand, a couple of circles and as many half-circles 
and half-circles in reverse. Four halts. 

5 min. Ordinary trot, at first on loose reins, later on contact. Serpentine and 
Zig-zag (one of each) and circles, half-circles and half-circles in re- 
verse (one or two of each). Two diagonal changes of directions. 
Three halts. 

3 min. Walk on loose reins to rest. Two halts. 

3 min. Ordinary canter, at first on loose reins, later on contact. Two 
changes of lead (while changing direction). One halt and about 
four circles (on the right and on the left leads). 

5 min. Walk on loose reins to rest. Two turns on the forehand. 

5 min. Increase and decrease of speed at a trot with a couple of halts. On 
contact and sometimes on the bit. 

5 min. Walk on loose reins to rest. A couple of halts. 



THE PROGRAM OF FORWARD SCHOOLING 309 

B min. Ordinary canter on loose reins and contact. Two changes of leads. 
One halt and several circles. 

5 min. Jumping wide obstacles at a trot. About six jumps. 
10 min. Dismount to give your horse a complete rest. 

3 min. Increase and decrease of the speed at the canter with two halts. On 
contact, and short periods on the bit. 

5 min. Walk on loose reins to rest. Two halts. 

5 min. Increase and decrease of speeds at a trot with the emphasis on semi- 
collection and semi-extension. Mostly on the bit, with two long halts. 

5 min. Walk on loose reins to rest. 

10 min. Work over Cavaletti; about ten jumps (starting with a very low 
one). At first cross Cavaletti at a walk (without jumping), later at a 
trot without and with jumping. 

5 min. Walk on loose reins to rest. Two turns on the forehand. 

3 min. Counter gallop. 

90 min. Dismount and cool off the horse in hand, 

SPECIAL EXERCISES FOR HUNTERS 

The schooling of a jumper and the schooling of a hunter differ in 
some respects. First of all, while a future jumper is prepared for an 
individual performance in an arena, a hunter is schooled for cross- 
country work in company. 

As you know, habit is a dominating factor in the horse's life; there- 
fore a hunter prospect should be given ample opportunity to become 
accustomed to working with other horses. Hacking in company is not 
enough; a future hunter should also often practice his ring exercises 
together with other horses. Exercises such as stabilization, Cavaletti, 
multiple in-and-outs, jumping single fences, halts at all gaits, backing, 
turns in place, changing gaits, even increase of speed, should be fre- 
quently practiced in a class-ride form, with rigidly kept distances be- 
tween the horses. In the early stages of schooling, a future hunter must 
be given experience in cantering or jumping behind other horses, with 
yet others galloping or jumping behind him. Regular work in company 
will in time develop the precious habit of remaining calm while per- 
forming in a group. 

As helpful practice, I would suggest occasionally asking the class to 
disperse, the riders working individually, moving in various directions 
and at different gaits, working in the center of the arena as well as 
along the fence. Any horse intended eventually to perform in company 
needs to acquire the habit of remaining quiet when meeting horses 
moving in the opposite direction; we all have seen many horses which 
would shy away or even rear on encountering other horses, particularly 
if the latter were moving fast. 

But even the regular class work comprised of the usual schooling 
exercises, whether in the ring or in a field, is not sufficient. Certain 
emotional situations, peculiar to foxhunting, should be imitated in the 



310 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

ring or in the schooling field, and eventually across country, thus, accus- 
toming future hunters to the specific conditions in which they will work. 
For instance, your colt must learn to remain calm when, for one reason 
or another, he has to wait his turn at a jump or when other horses pass 
him at a gallop. These and similar situations can be approximated by 
what I call "exercises for hunters/' The exercises for hunters (as any 
class work) can be practiced only if there is somebody to give directions. 
It is to this person that the description of the routine of conducting 
the exercises is addressed. 

Exercises for Hunters 
Exercise #1. 

Direct your class to walk along the fence of the ring, keeping their 
distances of two or three lengths of a horse (about two or three sections 
of a fence). When the class is moving along in an orderly fashion give 
the command: "Begin passing at a trot." At this command the last 
rider moves out of the line, starts a trot and passes (on the inside, of 
course) the whole line of riders. Once he finds himself ahead of the 
leader, he moves towards the fence, and breaking into a walk assumes 
the position of the leader. The rider who was second from the rear 
as soon as he is passed by the one behind him trots out and begins 
passing also and the remainder follow suit in succession. Thus, at any 
given moment, some riders are walking on loose reins, along the fence 
while others are trotting, preferably on loose reins also, passing the 
walking riders. 

The progressive development of this exercise consists in passing a 
trotting class at a canter, and finally, a cantering one at a gallop. 

This exercise is an old favorite with riding teachers and is used by 
them for bettering the technique of the rider's control; the exercise 
is merely routine to all good school horses. 

Exercise #2. 

Start your class riding at a walk along the fence of the ring. Make 
the class take a numerical order, thus dividing them into odd and even 
numbers. Give the following command: "each even number pass the 
horse ahead at a trot;" at this command all even numbers should simul- 
taneously start a trot and each rider pass only the horse which is ahead 
of him (as usual on the inside). The moment this is done all the even 
numbers should resume the walk. You now have the whole class walk- 
ing along the fence and, let us hope, maintaining the usual distances of 
two lengths of a horse. When distances are easily kept (on loose reins at 
times), it means not only that the riders are in control of their horses 
but that the horses are calm and cooperative. Your next command is: 
"each odd number pass the horse ahead at a trot/' Repeat this exercise 
for as long as necessary. 



THE PROGRAM OF FORWARD SCHOOLING 311 

As soon as this exercise is mastered at the walk and trot, make your 
class move at the trot, passing at the canter. If it is practical to go still 
further you may make the class move at a slow canter (slower than 
ordinary) and pass at a faster one. For passing at a canter you should 
double the distances between riders. Even a good-sized ring (125' by 
250') is too small to perform this exercise at a canter if the group is 
larger than about six. Your schooling field is the place for practicing it. 

Exercise #3 

Have your class ride at a trot toward a low obstacle. When the 
leader is about 75' from the fence, give the command: "odd numbers 
take the obstacle at a trot, even numbers make a wide circle (following 
their leader) to the right and then go over the obstacle/' You should of 
course alternate circling to the right and to the left. The odd numbers 
after negotiating the obstacle, gradually drop into a walk, thus waiting 
for the other group to join them. The even numbers, after making the 
circle, take the jump, also single file (now keeping double distances), 
and after the jump they resume the trot, catch up with the other group, 
take their respective places in the class and drop into a walk. Now, your 
next command should be addressed to the whole class "everyone trot." 
While the class is trotting you order the necessary turn to approach the 
obstacle again (perhaps this time from the other side). Then you ask 
even numbers to go straight at the obstacle and odd numbers to make 
a circle before taking it. Later the same exercise should be done at a 
canter, and later yet, over a raised obstacle. This exercise really should 
be practiced in a large field and not in the ring, particularly if the 
class is a large one. 

A variation of this exercise would be to ask the odd numbers to 
jump while the even numbers pass to the left or right of the obstacle, 
the class forming up again on the other side of the jump. 

You can also make a long fence, one part of which is lower than 
the other. In this case your command to the class which approaches 
the fence single file at a trot or canter, would be "odd numbers jump 
the higher part of the fence and even numbers jump the lower one; 
on the other side of the obstacle resume your places in the class." 

Exercise #4 

Ask your class to trot or canter toward an obstacle and at about 75' 
in front of it form a line parallel to the obstacle either to the right or 
the left of the halted leader. As a variation, the class may halt in a 
bunch; wait until all the horses are absolutely calm and then begin to 
call individual riders to take the jump singly at a trot or, if you think 
preferable, at a canter. The individual horses must leave the group will- 
ingly; those which don't should be punished. While one horse jumps, 



312 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

the others should be standing calmly. Little by little your class will be 
lined up or bunched up on the other side of the jump, probably some- 
thing like 150' away from it; you then order them to resume the gait, 
forming the usual single file. Have your class make the necessary turn 
to approach this or a different obstacle again; repeat the routine. 

As in the case of all the other exercises, this one may be varied. For 
instance, you can order all the even numbers to jump and only the 
odd ones to line up 75' before reaching the obstacle. After the even 
numbers have negotiated the obstacle and have either lined up on the 
other side of it or are walking away, in a class, with doubled distances 
between horses, you should order the odd number group to take the 
jump in their turn, either singly or in a class. 

The number of exercises for hunters can be considerably enlarged. 
You only need to think of the various difficulties which you or your 
friends have experienced when hunting and invent exercises of your 
own to cope with the specific situations which bother your horse. For 
instance, you can duplicate the situation when a field, forced to ride 
single file along a woods path, has to halt for one reason or another and 
each horse wait his turn to jump. 

Caution: Obviously, horses which are apt to kick should not be 
included in group exercises. Also, horses which have a marked tendency 
to refuse or run out should not take part in exercises over obstacles 
where a halt before the fence or passing of the jump is required. 

While recommending these exercises, I fully appreciate the difficulty 
of putting them into practice among almost any group of riders except 
those practicing in riding schools or the riding departments of private 
schools and colleges, where regular schedules are maintained. In the 
average hunt club, for instance, it seems to be next to impossible to 
organize -even as few as half a dozen riders who will school together 
regularly. However, if you wish easy, safe, pleasant hunting, this is the 
only way to go about training your horses, unless you are one of those 
lucky individuals who possess horses so alm and sensible by nature that 
in the hunting field they will behave like ladies and gentlemen without 
any emotional conditioning for fast work in company, and will do their 
work quite decently even without any schooling. 



CHAPTER XVI 

How to Teach Riding (General Considerations} 

This is an introduction to the next three chapters in which I discuss 
my method of teaching riding. 

I do not believe that riding can be taught efficiently by anybody to 
anybody on any horse and in any place. Any method can be practiced 
successfully only if the teacher, pupils, horses and equipment meet cer- 
tain requirements; this chapter is devoted to an analysis of these require- 
ments. 

THE TEACHER 

It may seem strange to the uninitiated that the statement that the 
teacher must be an up-to-date rider should be necessary. But, since the 
rating of riding teachers in this country started only recently, and so far 
is confined to the field of physical education in women's colleges and 
schools, one has to admit reluctantly that many join the profession with- 
out having a satisfactory preparation for it, some of whom undertake 
teaching purely as business. I actually know riding teachers who ride 
sitting on the horse's kidneys, with legs stuck forward, hands at their 
stomachs and whose control of the horse is as absurd. They don't even 
represent a good old-fashioned type of riding and merely exhibit a com- 
plete lack of knowledge of it. The ignorance or lack of discrimination 
of a large part of the potential clientele unfortunately enables some of 
these teachers to make a business success. 

Sometimes simple but correct riding, which has been learned superfi- 
cially, lacks a thorough understanding of why one behaves at certain mo- 
ments in the saddle in one way and not in another. This sort of riding 
is not enough for the teacher. Teaching is imparting one's knowledge and, 
consequently, the teacher must know why he is doing this or that. In 
other words, besides being a rider, the teacher must know the theory of 
riding; for teaching to ride consists in explaining to the pupil what to 
do and when and why, on the one hand, and training his body to the 
point where he can do it, on the other. This knowledge of riding, in my 
estimation, is even more important than riding itself. As he grows older, 
the teacher will gradually lose the excellence of his performance in the 
saddle; but there is no limit to his accumulation of knowledge for the 
benefit of his pupils. 

Theoretical and practical knowledge of riding are not all that is re- 
quired from a teacher; he must have the ability to impart this knowledge 

313 



314 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

to his pupil. I imagine that many are bom with this talent, but unques- 
tionably it is developed with experience. I can frankly admit that today 
in one lesson 1 can teach more than I did in four or five lessons twenty- 
odd years ago, when I first began teaching in the United States. 

I know of many others who, like me, have progressed in the efficiency 
of their work, and it seems to me that in all cases it was possible due to 
two reasons: 1) analytical self-criticism, and 2) a method. Almost from the 
first day of my teaching I developed the habit of looking back for a few 
moments over each lesson which had just been completed. While doing 
so I was trying to analyze the mistakes which I had made, at the same 
time never sparing compliments to myself for the good part of my work. 
As to the method: I do not mean that a teacher should be pedantically 
inflexible not at all, just the opposite. He must possess a keen mind 
which will enable him to see at a glance the emotional and physical condi- 
tions of his pupils and horses, and to be directed by them during the les- 
son. But I also know that the easiest way to teach riding is to pronounce 
the letter B only after the letter A has been learned. I have often witnessed 
how hopelessly desperate both pupil and teacher become, and how fruit- 
less the work, when lessons have no connection. One lesson must logically 
lead to the next, and the teacher should constantly improve his method. 

Probably the most difficult quality for a teacher to have is the ability 
to go ahead with the times. Riding, as everything else, is not stationary. 
New ideas spring up in different parts of the world. As in any other field, 
many of them are just fancies, but some present an improvement upon 
existing theories. A true knowledge of riding, plus an open mind, will 
enable one to discriminate and to improve. Unfortunately this is seldom 
the case, and many of us die professing what we learned fifty years before. 
In the history of riding our century has shown more rapid progress than 
almost any other period. Many of us have not been quick enough to 
follow it; this is largely responsible for the conflict of ideas we are now 
witnessing. 

Now about the character of the instructor of course there is a set of, 
so to speak, recognized "bedside manners," such as patience, cheerfulness 
and an encouraging attitude. 

Patience is tremendously important; cheerfulness is always pleasant; but 
frequently over-encouragement merely makes pupils lose all sense of what 
is really good. I believe that sincerity is more productive than flattery. 
Be prompt in telling a pupil when he did something well, but never 
hesitate in telling him when it is bad. If one works methodically, avoiding 
asking more from the pupil than he can do, the word "bad" is rather sel- 
dom necessary. It is important for a pupil to learn to discriminate, and 
it is the teacher's duty to teach him to do so. I have found out that tactful, 
analytical criticism is resented by only a few. These cannot learn riding. 

Many of us love to ride for an audience and get a great kick out of 
performing for an admiring pupil. There is no harm in it, but long ago 



GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS 315 

I came to the conclusion that the spirit of "Look at me, look how won- 
derful I am," is not a sound one for the teacher to have. Of course a 
teacher must mount to demonstrate and, naturally, for a long time his 
riding is bound to be very superior to his pupil's. But the time comes for 
the teacher to say, at least to some of his pupils: "This is how well I can do 
it, but you are younger and abler than I am, you will do it better in time/' 
It is a great thing for the teacher to be proud of the riding of his pupils. 
A good teacher produces occasionally a better rider than he is himself. 

THE PUPIL 

Pupils present a wide range of abilities; many were not born to ride 
well, some will make good riders, and only a few will become outstanding 
ones. Riding teachers are not magicians; the most that a teacher can do 
is to develop to the maximum the natural abilities of his pupils. 

A potential rider possesses the following qualities: suitable physique, 
boldness, sympathy for the horse, a quick mind, and the ability to work 
hard, logically and patiently. 

A good teacher will use the rider's physique to develop a strong seat 
(the basis for good hands), and strong, sure use of legs. Boldness, as well 
as being necessary for hunting and jumping, will make possible quick, 
correct thinking in tight places. Sympathy for the horse will enable the 
pupil in time to understand him, to feel him, and to "converse" with him; 
a logical mind is necessary in schooling horses; and no one can accomplish 
much unless he works. 

Working, as I understand it, does not mean merely taking lessons. I do 
not believe that one can learn to ride through merely riding around a 
teacher while being constantly corrected by him. Consequently my method 
of teaching requires (t home work." During the lesson I explain what to 
do to obtain a certain movement, and why; I show the easiest way to go 
about it; I repeatedly correct my pupil until he knows when he is right 
and when he is wrong. After this he should work by himself for two or 
three hours, training his body so that he can execute with ease what I 
have taught him during the lesson. This achieved, he is ready for the next 
lesson. I begin it by asking him to show me how well he has learned the 
previous one; depending on the results, we either go ahead or repeat 
the former lesson, and I again insist on "home work." A pupil who is 
unable to work by himself is hopeless. 

I have obtained the best results since following this method. The most 
inefficient, expensive and the most common way of trying to learn riding 
is to take lessons twice weekly and never go near a horse between times. 
Then, hour after hour, you hear the instructor repeating like a gramo- 
phone, "heels down, straight back, relax/' and so forth. This may be a 
good way of earning a living for the instructor, and for the pupil to 
have a good time; but it is neither teaching nor learning. Of course, a 
beginner can do his home work safely only if he is provided with a small 



316 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

enclosed ring, with an absolutely dependable horse and with somebody 
to keep an eye on him without attempting to teach him. 

The theoretical knowledge that one must possess to become a good 
rider is quite substantial. It is difficult for the pupil to remember every- 
thing he has heard during lessons and this is why he must read; he must 
practically memorize certain passages in some books. Among riding 
students the reluctance to read is common and its presence considerably 
diminishes the speed of progress in learning. 

So, as you see, "home work" must be both mental and physical. Re- 
sponsibility for progress in learning to ride is equally divided between 
the pupil and his teacher. It is up to the pupil to train his body and to 
learn the theory of riding, and it is up to the teacher to direct his pupil's 
efforts efficiently. 

If the pupil does not progress in a satisfactory manner, there is normally 
a natural tendency on his part to blame the teacher for the failure, and 
as natural and perhaps as sincere an attempt on the part of the teacher 
to put all the blame on the pupil. Either, of course, may be the case, just 
as substantial progress may be the result of only one party working well. 
But really efficient teaching takes place only when both teacher and 
pupil possess the necessary qualities described above and apply them 
in their work. 

HORSES 

The fact that one cannot learn riding on one horse is obvious, but 
there must be a system to the changing of horses; the change of horses 
should follow the pupil's progress. 

The horses on which a pupil is taught position (whether he is a be- 
ginner or a rider who is changing his seat) should require a minimum of 
control. Their gaits must be easy and even, and they should keep a slow 
trot and slow canter (alone or in a class) almost by themselves. In the 
same manner they should jump low obstacles. 

It is absurd to try to teach position on horses that stop or pull or be- 
come excited or refuse to stay along the wall, etc. A beginner cannot be 
expected to control the horse while learning position; all his mental and 
physical efforts should be concentrated on himself. Only if he is given 
such an opportunity can he progress rapidly. 

Rarely can one buy a "ready-made" horse for beginners, but making 
one is easy and merely consists of the two first months of schooling teach- 
ing voice commands on a longe and stabilization when mounted (see the 
chapter on THE PROGRAM OF FORWARD SCHOOLING). If the 
horse in question has a placid nature (and all beginners' horses should 
have) such a horse can begin to work under beginners in two months. 
Practice will improve him in the course of the next half year. Once such 
a horse has become a perfect instrument for teaching position he becomes 



GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS 317 

really valuable to the school. Anything which may upset him should be 
avoided. Hence he should never be used for better riders who may be 
learning control and will, therefore, be trying to use aids or make him 
execute more complicated movements. A beginner's horse must know one 
routine only, that is ring work and hacking at slow, even gaits on loose 
reins, obeying voice commands. 

Once the pupil has acquired a decent position, knows elementary con- 
trol and the time has arrived to begin to teach him intermediate control, 
he should be transferred to a different set of horses schooled ones. These 
horses must know at least all the simple movements, responding cor- 
rectly to the aids. They should not be upset by the heavy legs and hands of 
a green rider. 

When the pupil has learned (more or less mechanically) the cooperation 
of legs and hands, he should be introduced to horses equally well schooled 
but more sensitive who, in a mild way, will object to heavy handling. On 
these horses the student will learn to feel the amount of legs and hands 
required in various movements. Proper exercises and methodical work will 
develop "good legs and good hands." To develop strong legs in particular 
the pupil should ride over-lazy horses, and to develop softness of hands, he 
must ride over-ambitious ones; these, of course, are special cases. 

The next step is to teach the pupil to school a completely green horse. 
1 believe that schooling should be taught to every able rider, for it is the 
only way to give the polishing touches to his control, feelings, and full 
understanding of riding. 

A poor teacher will find innumerable excuses against having such a 
variety of horses and, true enough, if the teacher is bad he won't have any 
use for two categories of horses mentioned above. He will never need 
green horses, for he probably will never develop his pupils to the point 
where they are ready to learn schooling, and even if asked by an outsider 
to give such a course, will not know how to do it. Furthermore, he won't 
even have use for the schooled horses on which control should be taught, 
for most of his pupils will remain perpetual beginners while, to him, good 
control will mean nothing more than to be able to "master" a difficult 
horse in a very primitive way. In many cases he will not even have begin- 
ners' horses, for he has never learned how to organize his teaching and 
his remarks like "keep your heels down" will be forever hopelessly en- 
tangled with directions such as "more right leg and left hand." 

So the presence in a riding school of different groups of horses on which 
different elements of riding are taught is a recommendation in itself. 

Quite often failure to organize efficient teaching is not the fault of the 
teacher but of the circumstances in which he finds himself. For instance, 
many colleges and schools have no riding stables of their own although 
they may have a riding teacher on their staff. The physical education 
department makes some arrangement with a local stable for the use of 



318 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

their horses. In such cases the very same horses are hired out to towns- 
people who may ride very differently and many very badly. This is where 
even the best teacher is under too great a handicap to teach efficiently. 

TEACHING GROUNDS 

The most inefficient way to begin teaching a beginner is "on the road." 
The familiar picture of such a pupil dragged along on a lead rein and 
trying to post under the count "up, down, up, down," always makes me 
sorry for both the horses and human beings involved. The pathetic thing 
about it is not merely the unnecessary physical effort put into it but rather 
the fact that the whole course in riding started in this way cannot amount 
to much. 

I believe that there is only one way to begin the course of lessons that 
is in the ring. Of course, a covered ring is the best for schooling riders and 
horses; a covered ring makes the work independent of the weather and 
permits it to be systematic. But, this being impossible in most cases, an 
open ring will do. It may be of different dimensions, but if one has to 
teach both beginners and advanced riders and school horses in the same 
ring, then the size of the Olympic Games training test arena should be 
considered; it is 65 feet by 195 feet, with right angled corners. 

The ring should be laid out on even ground and if used for beginners, 
should have at least a 4' fence around it for the safety of the pupils. On. the 
other hand, for advanced riders and for schooling horses, a mere 6" board 
(as on a polo field) is all that is needed; for these latter cases one requires a 
defined arena only to help pupils to move straight, not to go away too far 
from the teacher and to work, in general, with a certain precision of 
control. 

For the sake of this precision of control about a dozen letters should be 
painted on the walls of the arena, just as it is done in the Olympic Games. 
During the lesson in control, all the commands are executed upon reach- 
ing a specified letter. If, for instance, the instructor has given the com- 
mand to start the canter at the letter A and the pupil has succeeded in 
executing it only after he is far past the letter, then it is obvious to him 
that his control was poor. These letters are also necessary when practicing 
programs in schooling horses. 

As a rule, horses under beginners cut corners. To prevent this, while 
your beginners don't yet know control, you should place a post in each 
corner, about 8' -away from either of the two walls, and the horse should 
be made to go between it and the wall; horses quickly acquire the habit 
of doing it by themselves. An oval arena eliminates this difficulty. 

The equipment of the riding ring should include a large variety of 
fences. This variety is primarily necessary for schooling horses; for teach- 
ing pupils, a dozen fences will suffice, and the full dozen you will only use 
when your pupils have reached the stage of learning how to take courses. 
If your ring is too small for such courses they ought to be set up outside 



GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS 319 

it. Unfortunately, as a rule, an outside course means a permanently set up 
series of jumps. This does not make sense either for schooling horses or 
for teaching humans. In both cases the courses must be often changed, 
depending on the current aim, progress or encountered difficulties. 

If the jumps were too heavy, I would be the first to think twice before 
dragging them around, and would probably unconsciously invent all sorts 
of reasons for the same course remaining for another week. Obstacles 
should be light and easy to assemble. 

As for wings you need none. If, on a very unlucky day, something like 
wings may be helpful you can always make them up out of spare posts and 
rails. 

Even if your ring is roomy enough to set up a course for beginners you 
need a large outside field in which to set up long and complicated courses 
for your advanced riders and for schooling horses. It will be fortunate if 
such a field is not level, so that your horses and pupils learn jumping up 
and down hill with an occasional "drop." 

Country for hacking is, of course, essential in making cross-country 
riders and horses and, if there is a hunt nearby which your advanced 
pupils, human and equine, can join occasionally, you are ideally situated. 

EQUIPMENT 

It is imperative that you have forward seat saddles. Knowing how ex- 
pensive it is to equip a whole stable with new saddles I have hesitated to 
say this, but, unfortunately there is no way out. A good hunting and 
jumping seat just cannot be taught on anything else. 

In a stable of, let us say, twenty horses I personally would not have use 
for more than three full bridles which I would need on rare occasions 
for teaching the use of the curb to very advanced riders. For hunting 
those horses which become emotionally upset when galloping in company 
I would recommend a Pelham. All my regular teaching and schooling of 
horses is done on a snaffle and I firmly believe that you and your pupils 
and your horses will be better off if you follow suit. 

Martingales are absolutely unnecessary to me unnecessary for my 
horses and, if I am successful in my teaching, unnecessary for my pupils. 
But I would keep a couple in my tack-room one standing and one run- 
ning and I would put them on occasionally to demonstrate to my pupils 
their ill effects. 

When teaching position to beginners one of my first concerns is to stabi- 
lize their legs. In this period of learning I don't want them to use their 
legs for control; hence they all should ride with a short, straight crop in 
hand just a wooden stick about 2' long and thick enough to grip easily. 
When I give the command "trot" all pupils should repeat it loudly to 
their horses and if they meet with no response they should urge the horse 
with the crop using it on the shoulder. A riding school must have many 
such crops. 



320 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

Many ideas and even actual paragraphs of this chapter appeared in an 
article written by me in 1941 for "Official Individual Sports Guide/' pub- 
lished for the National Section on Women's Athletics, by the American 
Association for Health, Physical Education, and Recreation. 



'CHAPTER XVII 

How to Teach the Forward Seat 



This chapter Is about a method of teaching position. I assume that my 
readers are familiar with the theory of The Forward Seat and hence do 
not discuss its details but merely analyze its main principles to make the 
appreciation of the teaching technique easier. 

Do you have a method or are you just swimming along while your 
charming personality keeps your pupils happy? And in general what 
does one need a method for? Is it possible to adhere to any program when 
dealing with a great variety of human types? Perhaps a combination of 
knowledge of riding, common sense and flexibility is more important than 
a teaching method? You have probably taken part in such discussions and, 
if not, you certainly will after reading the following pages. 

A good method is a logical, flexible sequence of lessons which achieves 
the best results with the majority, with the least danger to their health and 
with the minimum of effort. Of course it is based on the knowledge of 
riding, and common sense is needed to put It into practice. I know of so- 
called riding schools where learning position is a never-ending process 
which can be terminated only either by the pupil's changing his interest 
or by the considerations of his pocketbook. I know of others where posi- 
tion is taught in fifty to sixty riding hours. Did you ever count how many 
hours It takes you to get seventy-five per cent of your pupils to the point 
where, as far as their position is concerned, they do not need serious 
criticisms at a walk, trot, canter, gallop, or in jumping up to 2J/' or 3'? 
Can you do it In twenty lessons? Several teachers whom I know can. How? 
Through the use of a highly developed method., How does one develop a 
method? Through a combination of knowledge, practice and thinking. 
Now, can I invite you to think with me in analyzing an approach to creat- 
ing a method? 

A good working position has the following characteristics: 

1) The unity of the horse and of the rider in motion. 

2) Non-abuse of the horse either by the rider's weight or by his aids 
(in our case, not the use of the aids but merely their position is con- 
sidered). 

3) The rider's security in the saddle. 

4) The aids in a position to control quickly, efficiently and softly. 

321 



322 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

In order to have all these elements happily combined a pupil must de- 
velop certain physical qualities. These are: 

1) Correct design of position, 

2) Such a distribution of weight in the saddle that his line of center of 
gravity coincides with that of the horse. 

3) Balance in motion. 

4) Springiness of the body to absorb the shocks of locomotion. 

5) Rhythm of moving with the horse. 

6) Mental and hence physical relaxation. 

7) Grip. 

To prevent any possible misunderstanding I feel that I should define 
these points. 

1) Correct Design Of Position (In Profile) may be summed up as 
follows: 

a) The rider is placed close to the pommel. 

b) His legs are bent in the knees; heels are pulled down. 

c) He is inclined forward from the hips, more or less, depending on 
the gait and speed. 

d) His back is straight, shoulders open, head up. 

e) He keeps his arms bent in the elbows so that each forearm forms 
with its rein a straight line of action from elbow to the horse's 
mouth. 

Correct Design of Position (From The Front may be summed up as 
follows: 

a) The rider has his weight evenly distributed on both stirrups. 

b) His toes are out just enough to bring the upper-calves in contact 
with the saddle. 

c) His grip ends with the upper-calves and the rest of his lower-legs 
is away from the horse. 

d) He looks straight between the horse's ears. 

e) His hands are about one foot apart. 

2) Correct Distribution Of Weight means that, upon acquiring a 
correct design of his position, the rider places enough weight in the 
stirrups so that the line of center of gravity of his body will coincide 
with that of the horse. The efforts of loading the stirrups more or 
less, depending on the gait and speed, are in harmony with: 

a) corresponding increase or decrease of the inclination of the 
torso forward, 

b) greater or lesser angle in the knee. 

The ability to maintain a correct distribution of weight in motion 
largely depends on the balance and rhythm, 

3) Balance In Motion is the stability of the rider in the saddle without 
any gripping and regardless of disturbing shocks of locomotion. Bal- 



HOW TO TEACH THE FORWARD SEAT 323 

ance is the result of innumerable small compensating movements of 
the body and primarily of the torso. The effectiveness of unconscious 
balancing efforts largely depends on relaxation. 

4) The Spring In The Rider's Body is the result of the angularity of 
his attitude and of sufficient weight in the stirrups from which, acting 
as from the floor, the rider can give impetus to the spring accumu- 
lated in the angles of the ankles, knees and hips. A straight body has 
no springs in it and hence the longer the stirrups the less spring the 
rider has. Semi-relaxed joints make the spring effective. 

5) The Rhythm Of Moving With The Horse is a result of innumerable, 
unconscious movements of the body, and primarily of the torso, 
which help to preserve in motion the fundamental unity of the rider 
and the horse. It largely depends on a correct design of the rider's 
position, his correct distribution of weight and his balance. However, 
an average beginner learns the rhythm of the posting trot long be- 
fore acquiring the above qualities. 

6) Physical Relaxation does not mean sloppiness. In riding it means a 
state of the rider's body when it is neither slack nor stiff but continu- 
ously alert, ready to follow the quick and often unexpected move- 
ments of the horse. This condition exists only if mental relaxation is 
present. 

7) The Grip is a muscular effort which brings into hard contact (of 
varying degrees) with the saddle, the lower-thighs, the inner sur- 
faces of knees and the upper-calves. An effective grip depends on: 
correct design of leg position and on the strength of the muscles 
involved. 

Table V shows how the presence of these seven elements affects the funda- 
mental points of a good position. You may disagree with my point of view 
as expressed in this table and might like to change the check marks around. 
That would be fine; for the purpose of this chapter is not to give you a 
ready formula to follow but to stimulate you to create your own efficient 
method. With it, perhaps, you will teach position in seventeen hours in- 
stead of my twenty. 

I repeat again that you may distribute the marks "very much" in a 
different way than I have, but even then the main lesson of the table will 
still be the same; that is, that the unity of the rider and horse, non-abuse of 
the horse, and rider's security all depend on all seven fundamental charac- 
teristics of the rider's position. This can be argued only unintelligent^; 
for instance: we all know riders who sit really badly and who, in spite of 
their precarious position (especially while jumping) fall rather rarely. On 
the other hand, we all can think of riders who have a correct position and 
in spite of it find their way to the ground quite often. The possible de- 
duction from these observations is that the whole column on "security" 
is wrong, while the real explanation of the above examples lies in the 



324 



COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 



different conformations of the riders. A lightly built rider with long legs 
and a short torso is bound to have more security than a rider with short 
legs and a long heavy torso. In such discussions we really talk about the 
pupil's natural abilities. The following table, as all the thinking in this 
chapter, presupposes an averagely able pupil. 

For this average pupil the logic of this table works as follows (we shall 
discuss the first line of the table): 

1) A rider who has a correct design of position has a foundation for 
unity with his horse in motion, since he sits in such a way that in order 
to distribute Iris weight correctly he merely has to put sufficient weight in 
the stirrups. 

2) A rider who has a correct design of position has a foundation for 
non-abuse of his horse since he keeps his weight on the part of the horse's 



TABLE V 



Correct design of position 

Correct distribution of weight . 

Balance in motion 

Spring 

Rhythm 

Physical relaxation 

Grip 



Non-Abuse 

of the Horse 

x 



Security 
x 



Efficient 
Aids 

x 
very much 



Unity 

x 
very much 

XXX 

very much very much 

XXX 

very much very much 

XXX 

very much very much 

XXX 

very much 

X X X X 

very much 

X X X 

very much 

back which is most suitable for carrying burdens. Furthermore, he is non- 
disturbing to the horse with his legs, and has the best chance to be non- 
disturbing with his hands. 

3) A rider who has a correct design of position has a foundation for 
maximum security since he has his body in the best position to utilize 
balance, grip, spring and rhythm in motion, 

4) A rider who has a correct design of position has a foundation for an 
efficient use of aids; since his lower legs are sufficiently back and close to 
the horse's sides, while his hands are sufficiently forward and apart. 

A few minutes of thinking about the above table may give you two or 
three very interesting ideas. For instance: in the column on "security" the 
words 'Very much" appear four times. This fact seems to indicate that the 
grip does not have to be taught early, and may be regarded as a polishing 
touch to an already sufficiently secure Seat. This is welcome news, for the 



HOW TO TEACH THE FORWARD SEAT 325 

early teaching of grip invariably stiffens pupils and slows down progress. 

Now the question is how most efficiently to develop in the pupil's posi- 
tion all the elements on which will depend his future good riding. Al- 
though superficially it may seem that there are one thousand and one ways 
of doing it, actually the choice is not so large. There are just so many 
things and no more that at a given moment one can ask of the pupil 
unless, of course, you do not mind calling an ambulance. The following 
Table VI includes all those movements one can ask a beginner to execute 
in the course of the first twenty hours in the saddle. In addition to listing 
them, the table points out how they benefit an average pupil, providing 
that he is mentally relaxed, in other words, has confidence. The latter is 
gained through a tactful teacher, a good method, suitable horses and a 
small (for the first lessons), well-organized ring. Only if the pupil is re- 
laxed mentally is he sufficiently relaxed physically, and only then can you 
expect the following table to work. 

Again you may disagree with some of my check marks; but I am almost 
certain that the difference in opinion will concern details. Let us imagine 
two of several possible arguments that you and I might have. Shall we 
discuss, for instance, exercise #5 the posting trot? I have marked in the 
table that it develops balance, spring and rhythm, and have left blank the 
columns for correct design, correct distribution of weight, relaxation and 
grip. I did so because, in my experience, when a beginner is learning the 
posting trot he is all over the horse, for the first five hours at least, and 
hence one can hardly say that he is learning the correct design or the 
correct distribution of weight. But you may object to this, saying that 
although what I say is true about first lessons, it does not apply to the 
last ten, when the pupil begins to control his limbs to the point where 
he can control his position and distribution of weight while posting (es- 
pecially if holding the rnane). I agree with you and will not object to 
your putting check marks in the two first columns providing that then 
you add the words 'Very much" in the columns for balance, spring and 
rhythm. 

Or you may question my statement in the table that exercise #3, sitting 
trot with stirrups, develops the design of the position and the correct 
distribution of weight. I believe it does, providing, of course, that the 
horse has an easy gait and will trot slowly. But if you don't have such 
horses then probably your experience with this exercise has led you to 
different conclusions. But, if you will see the important connection be- 
tween this exercise and suitable horses, then you naturally will not argue 
that the efforts to keep a correct design and a correct distribution of 
weight will simultaneously develop balance and rhythm. By making your 
pupils increase the speed, you can make this exercise more difficult (when 
the time arrives), thus keeping it as a fundamental exercise through- 
out the course. Obviously, it develops neither spring nor relaxation, while 
the use of grip, if you should make the mistake of asking for it, will 



326 



COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 















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SUBJECT 




GaUophig position 
and trot. 


rt 

1 


Low jumping, up t 


Higher jumping, 2 


Change of gaits. 


Change of speeds at 


Hacking on the pa 
horses, escort). 


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horses, escort). 




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328 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

merely squeeze the pupil up and hence push him toward the cantle. But 
if you should argue that the sitting trot develops spring, not directly 
but by teaching the pupil to remain in an angular position with the 
angles in the hips, knees and ankles I would agree with you. This was, 
for years, my main exercise from the first lesson on, until comparatively 
recently I replaced it, but not entirely, by exercise #10 the galloping 
position at a walk and trot. 

I suspect that at this point some of my readers would like to ask me 
why I haven't mentioned such movements as backing, turn on the fore- 
hand, etc.? As you see, I didn't forget them, but I did not give them 
space in the table because I believe that they pertain to the teaching of 
control and that they have no value in teaching position. And, in gen- 
eral, I do not think that a pupil should be taught control while struggling 
with the fundamentals of the Seat. During the first twenty hours the pupil 
has enough troubles without; trying to control his horse. I teach beginners 
merely how to move the horse forward, how to keep him moving straight, 
how to turn him, increase and decrease the speed and how to stop; later, 
how to start a canter in the simplest way, disregarding the lead and with 
the help of the instructor's command, which I hope most of your horses 
know. All this I teach in a most primitive manner, just enough to keep 
the class moving and to have my pupils safe during their homework. I 
always insist that the reins can be picked up only while giving orders, re- 
maining loose the rest of the time. In this way an easily established 
habit of hanging on the horse's mouth is prevented. Of course, all the 
above is possible only if you know how to make horses for beginners 
and have some horses assigned exclusively for this work. Only toward 
the end of the position course do I gradually replace loose reins with 
contact, thus making my pupil ready to start studying control. 

Now let us return to the examination of the table. Any one of the 
exercises, once introduced, should be repeated every lesson until prac- 
ticed to the point where it is no longer necessary; but the actual intro- 
duction of them should be gradual and discriminating for reasons of 
safety and efficiency. 



For the First F/ye Lessons One Can Use: 

To DEVELOP 

#1 Halt correct design, correct distribution of weight, relaxation 

#2 Walk correct design, correct distribution of weight, relaxation 

#3 Sitting trot correct design, correct distribution of weight, balance, 

rhythm 

#5 Posting trot balance, spring, rhythm 

#10 Galloping position at correct design, correct weight distribution, balance, 

walk and trot spring, rhythm 

$11 Circles and half circles balance and rhythm 
$12 Low jumping balance, spring, rhythm 



HOW TO TEACH THE FORWARD SEAT 329 

#19 Gymnastics in the sad- 
dle relaxation 

#20 Theory all elements 

#21 Making pupils observe 

and criticize others all elements 

For the Next Five Lessons One Can Add: 

To DEVELOP 

#22 Change of horses correct weight distribution, balance, rhythm 

#1 5 Change of speeds at a 

trot balance and rhythm 

#7 Canter balance, rhythm 

#4 Sitting trot without 

stirrups relaxation for the canter (if necessary and safe) 

For the Next Five Lessons One Can Add: 

To DEVELOP 
#9 Galloping position at correct design, correct weight distribution, balance, 

canter spring, rhythm, grip 

#6 Posting trot without 

stirrups grip for gallop (if necessary and safe) 

#16 Hacking on the paths balance, rhythm, spring, grip and general confidence 

and hence relaxation. 

For the Next Five Lessons One Can Add: 

To DEVELOP 

#8 Canter without stirrups relaxation for canter (use only if necessary and safe) 
#14 Change of gaits balance, rhythm 

#13 Higher jumping (up to 

three feet) balance, spring, rhythm, grip 

#17 & 

#18 Hacking cross country balance, spring, rhythm, grip and general confidence 
and going up and and hence relaxation, 
down hill 

Remarks On The Exercises Of The First Five Lessons. 

Analyzing the exercises chosen for the first five lessons we see that the 
design of the position and the correct distribution of weight can be 
developed through the use of a halt, walk, sitting trot and through 
"galloping position at a walk and trot;" the last two are, to a large extent, 
substitutes for each other. I, personally, prefer the latter to the sitting trot, 
while yon may use the former. But both of us will certainly use the halt, 
during which the teacher has a chance to adjust the pupil's position; and 
the walk, during which it is easy to keep the position fixed by the hands 
of the teacher. It is only recently that I began to use "the galloping 
position at a walk and trot" as my fundamental exercise, so I would like 
to give my reasons for doing so. While executing this exercise the pupil 



330 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

must be clear out of the saddle, and low above it, holding the mane (reins 
loose), balancing himself (without gripping) in the stirrups (for a while 
with the help of his hands). In order to obtain the equilibrium, the pupil 
has to bend his legs in the knees sufficiently to bring the stirrups under the 
body and bend his torso in the hips enough to be able to stand in the 
stirrups in balance. Thus the correct bending of the legs and the correct 
inclination of the torso are developed naturally while the pupil merely 
tries to remain standing in the stirrups without touching the saddle, and 
without too much help of the hands. Rhythm and balance are being 
developed from the very beginning, and, with the gradual removal of the 
hands from the horse's neck (reins still loose), the balance is developed 
rapidly. Besides which the galloping position with the weight in the stir- 
rups makes pulling the heels down comparatively easy. In the course of the 
thirteen years since this book was written, this exercise has become the 
cornerstone o my teaching of the forward seat. 

When, in former days, rny fundamental exercise was the sitting trot, 
I had difficulties in teaching the "posting trot/' for the. pupils, never hav- 
ing enough weight in the stirrups, just couldn't rise in rhythm with the 
horse's movement. Since I adopted the "galloping position*' as my initial 
subject I usually start posting during the first lesson and am successful in 
many cases in obtaining it within ten minutes. The same experience 
applies to jumping. But there is nothing black and white in riding or 
teaching it, and now I have created a problem for later on when pupils 
begin to study the canter; not being used to having much contact with 
the saddle, so many of them bang it. This is why I maintained the sitting 
trot as an exercise second in importance. All in all, my mathematics tell 
me that I gain a few hours by introducing "the galloping position at a 
walk and trot." I would suggest your giving it a trial; you may also find 
that it works. 

An important point to consider when examining all the possible ex- 
ercises is the fact that some of them are efficient, while others are com- 
paratively ineffective. For instance, low jumping is an extremely efficient 
exercise for the development of balance, spring and rhythm, while the 
use of circles and turns is a much slower way to develop balance and 
rhythm. But one has to use the latter also; first because it develops a 
specific part of general balance the balance on a horse not perpendicu- 
lar to the ground and then just because it breaks the monotony of the 
lessons. 

Exercise #19 (gymnastics in the saddle) I personally don't use at all; 
long ago I found out that it was a waste of time. The most that I make my 
pupils do is to pat their horses on the shoulder and on the croup at all 
gaits. But perhaps you know how to use gymnastics better than I do, so I 
left them in the table. 

Subject #21, which calls upon the pupil to observe and criticize others, 
I like very much, and prefer it to merely explaining the theory (which 
is also important). At first glance there would seem to be a considerable 
loss of time, for a part of the class is standing in the center of the ring 



HOW TO TEACH THE FORWARD SEAT 331 

playing teacher, but actually time is gained, for the theory is thus 
assimilated much faster than in any other way; furthermore, in correcting 
others, pupils learn to correct their own fajalts. 

Remarks On The Exercises Of The Second Group Of Five Lessons. 

Depending on the abilities of the pupil, one may start the canter 
(exercise #7) anywhere from the sixth to the tenth lesson, and I would 
try to begin it by merely letting the horse continue the canter upon 
landing after jumping a low fence. To some it may seem that jumping 
even one-foot fences is more advanced than a canter. But in reality this 
is not so. For a jump has just one rough moment, while the canter has 
a constant repetition of them; it is a succession of unfamiliar shocks of 
locomotion which stiffen the pupil, make him bang the saddle and even 
unseat him. As I have already mentioned, the normal difficulty in teaching 
position at the canter is the inability of the average pupil to be softly 
in contact with the saddle, while having very little weight in it. To over- 
come "banging" I use the sitting trot without stirrups (exercise #4), legs 
hanging naturally and completely loose, with toes hanging down. This 
exercise does the trick in most cases, but in some of them, the canter with- 
out stirrups has to be added and, if such is the case, it hardly can be 
accomplished even on the tenth lesson, the sixteenth is more likely, if 
safety is to be considered. 

Change of speeds at a trot (exercise #15) is one of the mild exercises 
and it develops balance and rhythm through making the pupil slightly 
change his distribution of weight with the horse's extension when in- 
creasing speed and his slight gathering when decreasing it. I think it is a 
very valuable exercise; horses, of course, must decrease and increase the 
speed mostly from the commands of the teacher. 

Change of horses (exercise #22) could be started during the first five 
lessons. I think it is advisable to postpone it, and to give the pupil a chance 
to gain confidence by riding the same horse several hours. The value of 
this lesson, of course, lies in the fact that all horses have somewhat dif- 
ferent conformations and ways of going and hence the change of them 
calls for adaptability on the part of the rider. 

Remarks On The Exercises Of The Third Group Of Five Lessons. 

It may seem strange to you that so far I have not mentioned the "gallop- 
ing position at a canter" (exercise #9), for since I start my lessons teach- 
ing this position at a walk and trot my pupils naturally make their 
first strides of canter in a galloping position. My reasons for putting it in 
the third group of lessons are two: 1) if you use sitting trot with stirrups 
to develop design and distribution of weight, then the galloping posi- 
tion at a canter can hardly be taught earlier; 2) in my own case when 
teaching this position at a canter I try to develop a correct galloping posi- 



332 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

tion, low over the saddle and with gripping, which could hardly be asked 
earlier. 

If a pupil has weak muscles and you are anxious to develop them, the 
efficient way of doing so is through ground exercises. Personally, not know- 
ing a thing about them, I refer my pupil to teachers of gymnastics. Myself 
I have only one means posting trot without stirrups (exercise #6). 

As soon as the confidence and ability of a particular pupil permit and, 
depending on my facilities and horses, I insist on his practicing by him- 
self; sometimes I ask this ''homework" after the fifth lesson. For this, of 
course, you must have a small ring, very quiet horses and an advanced 
pupil who will be willing to be present, not to teach, but merely to pre- 
vent possible abuse of the horse and, in general, to stop reckless proce- 
dures. I firmly believe that the average pupil learns a point better by 
himself, if he knows what to aim at and how to avoid or correct his mis- 
takes. Later on "homework" should be done outside on the bridle paths 
(exercise #16), with a clear- and fast-thinking escort. There is no reason 
why any of the points of position cannot be practiced in the fields, 
besides which, riding in the open, no matter how slow, encourages pupils 
to work harder. 

Remarks On The Exercises Of The Last Group Of Five Lessons. 

The strong exercises in this group are hacking cross-country (#17 and 
#18) and jumping over 2 y% fences (#13); in some cases of very able 
pupils on very smooth horses the height may be raised to 3'. 

The change of gaits is similar (although more advanced) to change 
of speeds at a trot, and is important for it teaches quick readjustments of 
position during the transitions. This exercise (#14) gives polishing 
touches to balance and rhythm. 

I have already pointed out that the canter without stirrups (exercise 
#8) is very efficient in eliminating "banging the saddle" at the canter. But 
since it requires from the pupil a certain amount of security, it is as well not 
to hurry with it. This is the only reason why you find it in this last group 
of exercises. 

Now*, on the basis of what has been said in this chapter, you and I are 
ready to make a definite program for the first twenty lessons, specifying 
exactly which exercises are to be used during each hour. Of course it is 
understood that we reserve the right to change it somewhat when we face 
the actual problems of particular pupils, horses and facilities. I would 
suggest that you stop reading at this point, and make a program of your 
own and then compare it with mine; you may think of some constructive 
changes. 

One Of The Possible Programs For The First Twenty Hours, 

1st hour Halt, 
walk, 



HOW TO TEACH THE FORWARD SEAT 333 

sitting trot, 

galloping position at walk (and trot where able), 
low jumping (at first merely crossing poles on the ground), 
theory, while resting. 
2d hour The same, plus 
posting trot, 
more theory. 
3d hour The same plus 

circles and half circles at a walk, 
more theory. 
4th hour The same plus 

observing and criticizing others, 
more theory. 
5th hour homework. 

6th hour The same exercises as above plus 
change of horses, 
change of speeds at a trot, 

more theory and observing and criticizing others. 
7th hour homework. 

8th hour The same exercises as above plus 
canter, 

more theory and observing and criticizing others. 
9th hour homework. 
10th hour The same exercises as above plus 

sitting trot without stirrups (only if necessary), 
more theory and observing and criticizing others, 
llth hour homework. 
12th hour The same exercises as above plus 
galloping position at a canter, 
more theory and observing and criticizing others. 
13th hour homework. 
14th hour The same exercises as above plus 

posting trot without stirrups (dnly if necessary) , 
more theory and observing and criticizing others. 

15th hour Homework, on the bridle path (returning to the ring for cantering). 
16th hour The same exercises as above plus 
change of gaits, 

more theory and observing and criticizing others. 

17th hour Homework on the bridle path (returning to the ring for cantering). 
18th hour The same exercises as above plus 

fences being gradually raised throughout the course now reach the 

height of 2 W, 

canter without stirrups (only if necessary), 
more theory and observing and criticizing others. 

19th hour Homework cross-country (returning to the ring for cantering). 
20th hour An informal competition. Pupils to ride individually for about three 
minutes, being judged by the rest of the class. 

Glancing through the above program I have become apprehensive lest 
you may think that I devote too much time to pure theory and to pupils' 



334 GOMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

criticisms of each other; the fact that I have put theory into every lesson 
may seem to indicate this. But what I really meant is that theory should 
not be presented all at once, in a lump, but should be spread through the 
whole course, new points being discussed with the introduction of new 
movements; while observing and criticizing others goes, of course, hand in 
hand with the unfolding of theory. 

In ending this part of the chapter, I should like to stress once more 
that the above or a similar method will work only if you have suit- 
able horses. Such horses can rarely be bought; they are made. Making 
horses is one of the very important activities of a riding teacher. I pur- 
posely avoid the word "schooling" in connection with horses used for 
teaching position; it isn't exactly schooling, it is a sort of "fixing" of them 
for a certain work. Of course, when buying horses for this purpose you 
will be careful to choose those which are not too big, which are absolutely 
quiet and with easy gaits; but after that it is up to you to teach them to 
work in a class on loose reins at all gaits, including low jumping. This is 
not hard to achieve and it has to be done before beginning to think how 
to increase the efficiency of lessons. 

A pupil of mine (a riding teacher) after reading the first draft of this 
chapter rightly pointed out to me that in the table I omitted one exercise: 
"change of diagonals at posting trot/' This was my oversight and possibly 
it is not the only one; perhaps you will find others and if so correct them 
in your own use of the method. I am not doing it here myself for I am 
choosing the incident as an example of how much constructive thinking 
you can do in creating a method of teaching position. 

Remarks On How To Teach The Forward Seat For Jumping. 

As you know, jumping over low fences is one of the exercises for de- 
veloping a good seat for gaits; while, on the other hand, a good position 
at gaits is the basis for an efficient seat for jumping high fences. All the 
different manifestations of a good position are inter-related, Appreciating 
this fact, the riding teacher must particularly bear in mind that the exer- 
cise "galloping position at a walk and trot/' and posting from the stirrups 
in rhythm with the horse, as well as the galloping position at a canter are 
all particularly closely related to jumping. For example, the fault of being 
left behind is more efficiently corrected by practicing these three things 
than by anything else. 

A good forward seat over obstacles, the kind that is adaptable to the 
various types of jumping which one will meet in actuality, cannot be 
taught by always jumping the same ordinary fence at the same gait and 
speed. The efforts of the rider over a low jump taken at a canter differ 
somewhat from his efforts over the same jump taken at a trot, and differ 
again when the same obstacle is taken from a fast gallop. Broad jumps, 
in-and-outs, jumps with a drop, etc., all somewhat change the problem of 
remaining with the horse securely and without abusing him. Consequently, 



HOW TO TEACH THE FORWARD SEAT 335 

in your teaching of jumping, you should use the following groups of 
obstacles all taken at a trot, canter and gallop: 

1) Vertical fences (adaptability to short and steep trajectories) 

2) Broad obstacles (adaptability to long and flat trajectories) 

3) In-and-outs (adaptability to jumps in rapid succession) 

4) Alternating broad and vertical fences (quick adaptability to vary- 
ing trajectories) 

5) Alternating gaits and speeds on successive obstacles (quick adapt- 
ability to varying differences between the speed of the approach and 
the speed of the take-off). 

In teaching the jumping seat your first two requirements from the 
pupil are: 

1) The rider must not abuse the horse's back by banging it or by re- 
turning to the saddle too early. 

2) The rider (even a beginner) should not abuse the horse's mouth by 
jerking it or by not giving enough reins to enable the horse to extend 
his neck. 

These two points are inter-related and the ability of a beginner to stay 
out of the saddle throughout the jump largely depends on the additional 
support, which he should establish by putting his hands on the crest 
of the neck and by transferring enough weight to his hands so that they 
will not jump up and throw his body back into the saddle. Obviously, 
when fixing hands this way on the crest of the neck, the reins must be 
loose enough to give room for the gestures of the horse's neck and head. 
Thus a rank beginner should approach the jump on completely loose 
reins; later on, when approaching an obstacle on contact, the pupil must 
have his reins rather long and move his hands well forward to the middle 
of the neck before fixing them. 

With the improvement of the pupil's position, he must be required to 
fix his hands not on the crest of the neck, but on its sides, so that there 
will be a straight line of action from the elbows to the horse's mouth; this 
is a step toward the future following of the horse's head and neck by the 
rider's arms through the air. 

The success of the rider's behavior during the jump will be largely the 
result of how he has prepared himself during the approach. What a pupil 
should be told during the approach will depend, of course, on his in- 
dividual strong and weak points. But in the average case this recom- 
mendation may be given: 

In the course of approximately the last eight strides have your pupil do 
the following five things: 

1) Whether your pupil approaches an obstacle at a trot or a slow 



336 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

canter, about eight strides away from the jump he must assume a gallop- 
ing position (at a trot, stop posting). 

2) About six strides away from the jump he must make sure that his 
weight is really in the stirrups and make an additional effort to depress 
his heels. 

3) About four strides from the fence he must close in his lower thighs, 
knees and upper calves. (Grip. Never let your pupil grip before he has 
put his weight in the stirrups.) 

4) About two strides from the jump the beginner must either grab the 
mane or put his hands on the crest of the neck, immobilizing them with 
sufficient weight on them. 

5) At the moment of the take-off most beginners will have to make a 
little extra movement forward with the torso (onto their hands) in rhythm 
with the horse's accelerated speed which accompanies the release of the 
spring accumulated in the hindquarters. Failure to do this often causes 
being left behind. On the other hand, if this movement exceeds the 
horse's effort, the rider will over-balance himself to the front. 

It is particularly during this stage that the pupil must look straight 
ahead between the horse's ears. Failure to do the latter will result in an 
uneven distribution of weight in the stirrups and in the rider's inability to 
move straight ahead with the horse. 

In teaching, at first, I give commands myself for the execution of these 
five things. The commands are given in the following abbreviated form: 
"galloping," "weight," "grip/ 1 "hands," "forward." Later I have my pupil 
say these five words aloud when performing the corresponding actions. 

It is needless to say that efficient teaching of the seat over fences can be 
accomplished only on horses which jump mechanically without requiring 
any controlling efforts on the part of the rider. 

Remarks On How To Teach Elementary Control. 

Previously in this chapter I have mentioned how simple the control re- 
quired of a pupil learning position should be, and in the chapters on 
Bringing Control Dowxi To Earth And Forward, and on Elementary 
Control, elementary control has been precisely defined. 

While teaching position, elementary control should be considered by 
the teacher from three points of view: 

1) As a means of making the class move in an orderly fashion while 
changing gaits and speeds and making turns and whatever else may be 
necessary to accustom the pupil to changes of balance and rhythm. 

2) As a means of safety while the pupil is doing his "homework" or 
hacking on a quiet, obedient horse. 

3) As a first step in the education of how to handle horses. 
Elementary control is so simple that teaching it does not require much 

theoretical knowledge, while merely common sense and a certain knack 
are all-important. Therefore, I believe that it would be foolish on my 



HOW TO TEACH THE FORWARD SEAT 337 

part to present the study of it in some sort of elaborately organized form; 
and hence I merely wish to list its basic points: 

1) Elementary control can be taught only on suitably prepared horses 
which work calmly on loose reins. I shall not dwell on this point for it has 
already been discussed many times in this book. 

2) There are no special lessons in elementary control; it is taught to- 
gether with position, and new points of control are added as new exercises 
are required for the improvement of the seat. 

3) You should include no theory in your instructions as to why certain 
aids are required in certain cases. The method of elementary control must 
be extremely simple, so that the reasons for different aids are evident. For 
example: you tell the pupil that in order to stop the horse he should give 
the voice command "whoa," then pull on the reins; you should insist that 
the horse be stopped by the time you have counted three after order- 
ing the pupil to halt. And that is all for a time. 

At this stage the fact that your class can halt immediately after receiv- 
ing the command is a step toward safety in hacking. However, the precise 
manner in which each pupil has stopped his horse is not all-important. 
Of course you will correct flagrant mistakes, such as pulling with the hands 
held too high or being unnecessarily rough; but if you are wise, you will 
overlook details. 

4) This is the time to begin to acquaint a pupil with the psychology of 
the horse. While the pupil's seat is still unstable and his body uncoordi- 
nated in the saddle, you cannot require from him a precise use of hands 
and legs for control; but there is no reason why he can't be introduced to 
the mentality and character of the horse. The first step in this direction, 
riding on loose reins assisting control with voice commands, is an illustra- 
tion of the fact that the horse is capable of learning and cooperating. 
Teaching your pupils to talk soothingly to the horse when he has been 
obedient, to scold him when he has disobeyed, to pat him and to give him 
an occasional carrot or sugar lump when he deserves it, is, I believe, at this 
stage, a most important practice in forming a future horseman. If, while 
teaching position, you succeed in introducing the horse to your pupils as 
a living being, you will have achieved something very essential. Activities 
such as grooming, saddling, feeding or caring for the horse in any way, 
are as important in teaching this necessary understanding between mount 
and rider. But besides all this you should frequently discuss the horse's 
character. Telling a pupil at this stage such things as that he must main- 
tain a soft contact with the horse's mouth is useless; he would be unable to 
do it no matter how hard he tried. On the other hand, there is no reason 
at all why he should not already be learning to understand and consider 
the horse. 

Toward the end of the course in position, when pupils have already 
considerable practice in changing gaits, speeds, making circles, etc., I 



338 . COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

usually devote ten or fifteen minutes of the lesson (divided into two or 
three periods) to a special exercise in elementary control. It consists in 
giving different orders in rather rapid succession (one, or even sometimes 
two orders each round of the ring). For example, the commands can be 
given in the following order: "walk," "trot," "circle after the leader," 
"canter," "circle after the leader," "trot," "walk," "change directions," 
"halt," etc. 

It is for a quick execution of my commands without undue roughness 
and for the general orderliness of the class that I am looking during this 
exercise. 

The first half of this chapter was printed as an article in THE OFFICIAL 
INDIVIDUAL SPORTS GUIDE (1950-52], published for The National Section 
on Women's Athletics by The American Association For Health, Physical 
Education^ And Recreation. 



CHAPTER XVIII 

How to Teach Control (Intermediate and Advanced) 

The chapter on How To Teach Position, while addressed to teachers, 
can be used as a practical guide by those who are endeavoring to learn by 
themselves. The same cannot be said of this chapter; for I don't believe 
that any refinement of control can be learned unless someone is present 
to tell the student when he is right and when he is wrong. Therefore, the 
content of this chapter is meant for teachers who ride well and know the 
theory of riding, bui have not as yet developed a method of teaching. How- 
ever, a student of riding, while unable to make practical use of the pro- 
gram, may glean some further knowledge of general theory from glancing 
through it. 

The following schedule for teaching control is not new in my practice. 
I have used it for over ten years, working always to improve it. An essen- 
tially similar program was published in The Rider and Driver, in a series 
of my articles which came out during the winter of 1942-43. My own ex- 
perience, as well as the experience of some of my friends who teach riding, 
has since altered it for the better. 

After experimenting with many different methods in teaching riding, I 
have come to the conclusion that the only efficient way is to divide pupils 
rigidly into three main groups. The subjects taught to the first group are 
position and elementary control; that taught to the second group is in- 
termediate control; and the third group is instructed in advanced control 
and complete schooling, or merely schooling on an intermediate level. I 
usually call these three groups "Position," "Control" and "Schooling" 
groups; some other teachers prefer to call them "Beginners," "Intermedi- 
ate" and "Advanced." The title after all makes little difference; but I 
rigidly observe the rules of each group; no pupil is promoted until he is 
fully prepared to enter the next group. However, while a beginner will 
remain in the position class perhaps twenty hours or more, a pupil with 
past experience and needing only some correction of position, may find 
it necessary to stay in it only two or three hours. This division enables me 
in the control group, for instance, to talk and teach control, and control 
only; this system greatly increases the rate of progress. 

The teacher must always bear in mind that it is difficult for a pupil to 
work on several points at once. Therefore not only should lessons on con- 
trol be concentrated exclusively on control; but each new point in it 
should be presented by itself. Consequently, the hour, or part of it, as- 
signed to learning the execution of a new movement should be devoted to 
it and it alone. Furthermore, new movements should not be introduced 

339 



340 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

in a haphazard fashion, but in a logical sequence, one movement leading 
to another. With this in mind, I have worked out a program for teaching 
control. In order to keep the logic of the schedule perfectly clear, I am list- 
ing only the fundamental lessons; the teacher will find that it is necessary 
to teach, between the principal lessons, minor points, such as going deep 
into the corners of the ring, or the use of the "rein of indirect opposition 
to the rear of the withers" in combatting the horse's resistance. 

Before you begin to study the program of teaching control, I should 
like you to consider the following points: 

1) For this course, you cannot use the same horses which you use in 
teaching position. Horses for teaching control must be at least decently 
schooled. They must know all the movements required by the program 
and they must respond correctly to the rider's legs and hands. 

2) The word "lesson" is not used in the sense of a single hour's work; 
here it means a subject which has to be learned. It may take a pupil a few 
minutes, or it may take him several hours to learn a certain lesson. 

3) The order in which the lessons are listed should not be rigidly ac- 
cepted by teachers. It is subject to change, depending on the particular 
circumstances encountered when teaching a certain pupil or a certain 
class. 

4) The teacher does not have to wait for one lesson to be perfectly exe- 
cuted before beginning the next one. But since each lesson prepares the 
pupil for the following one, the degree of efficiency at a given moment 
is indicative of whether the time has come to go ahead. 

5) It is obvious that only in the case of a pupil who does not know con- 
trol at all will the teacher need to start with lesson #1. 

6) Each working hour should begin by reviewing the preceding lesson 
(pupil's homework) and, in general, the study of the new subject should 
proceed hand in hand with the work toward perfecting the previous 
lessons. 

7) The theory of control is both longer and more complicated than the 
theory of position. It might even be said with some justice that position 
and elementary control could be taught almost without any theory. This 
is utterly impossible in teaching control. Hence some of the lessons listed 
are devoted purely to theory, illustrated by the teacher's riding. At the 
moment a pupil may have the erroneous impression that he is wasting 
time, not doing anything himself. This is an illusion, for he will save a 
great many hours of struggle and much money by devoting the necessary 
time to theory. 

THE PROGRAM FOR TEACHING INTERMEDIATE CONTROL 

LESSON #1 

Subject The aims of intermediate control. What is a good, efficient 
movement. 



INTERMEDIATE AND ADVANCED 341 

This lesson must make clear to the pupil the aims of Intermediate 
control and outline (very generally) the plan of the course. This lesson 
is a preface to the detailed description of the theory of control. 
Theory The discussion and demonstration of the following points con- 
stitute this lesson: 

1) The ordinary and the stimulated movements of a free horse. 

2) What constitutes the efficiency of gaits. Why collected gaits should 
not be used in field riding and jumping. 

3) The differences between the principles of the old-fashioned and the 
modern ways of controlling hacks, hunters and jumpers. Forward 
Riding is more natural, more efficient and less disturbing to the horse 
than the Classical 19th century method. It is also much easier to 
learn. 

4) The outline of the plan of the study of Control. Different move- 
ments, besides their practical values, are exercises for the develop- 
ment of cooperation of the rider's legs and hands with the efforts of 
the horse. 

Practice The pupil does not mount at all during this lesson. All the 
riding is done by the teacher, or advanced pupils, on well-schooled 
horses, and is intended to illustrate the above points. 

General Remarks One hour is just about enough to cover this subject 
and the pupil must follow it by extensive reading on the subject in 
different texts suggested by the teacher. No matter how able the pupil 
and how experienced the teacher, it will take many weeks of riding, 
observation and thinking before this lesson will become really clear. 
The number of topics which could be considered as belonging to 
this lesson is much larger than the above list. I, personally, prefer to 
scatter them throughout the course; there is danger in telling too much 
at one time. 

LESSON #2 

Subject Riding on soft contact, with the horse's neck stretched forward. 
Theory The following points should be discussed and demonstrated by 
the teacher: 

1) The difference between riding on soft contact and riding "on the 
bit." 

2) The part which the rider's legs play in establishing contact. 

3) The importance of the extended neck. 

4) The advantages of riding on soft contact. How light it should be. 

5) "Give and take" during riding on contact. 

6) How green horses and horses with ruined mouths react to attempts 
of the rider to establish contact. 

Practice At first practice riding on contact at a trot, because at this gait 
there are no balancing gestures. It will take a couple of hours before 



342 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

the pupil will be able to follow these gestures harmoniously with his 
arms at a walk. 

Postpone the practice at a canter until the pupil knows more about 
starting and maintaining this gait (Lesson #6). 

General Remarks As a rule, after several hours of endeavoring to ride on 
contact, the pupil believes that he has achieved the correct lightness. 
You may be almost certain that as yet he really does not feel it, and that 
it will take him many weeks of homework before he will really get it. 

LESSON #3 

Subject "On the legs." This lesson is really a part of the preceding one. 
Theory The following points should be discussed and demonstrated by 
the teacher: 

1) The difference between the horse obedient to the legs, lagging be- 
hind them and going ahead of them. 

2) The importance of harmony between the action of the hindquarters 
and of the forehand. 

3) The expression: "Good Hands" refers actually to a combined use of 
legs and hands. 

4) Control over a well-schooled horse is executed mainly by variations 
of pressure of the calves. The use of spurs, whip and of the voice as 
a help to the legs. 

5) How green horses and horses with dulled sides react to the rider's 
legs. 

Practice The pupil must get the feel of what is the minimum leg pres- 
sure required by an average, decently schooled horse. To give pupils 
this feeling, teach walk and trot departure, as well as keeping an even 
speed at these gaits. Riding different horses is essential for this lesson. 
This feeling will not come at once; the pupil will be under the im- 
pression that he has it long before he actually acquires it. 

General Remarks Probably after half an hour or so this lesson can be 
combined with the preceding one. It is obvious that both of them make 
sense only if executed simultaneously and toward the same aim. 

LESSON #4 

Subject The basic principles of leg and hand signals. 

Theory The following point should be discussed and demonstrated by 
the teacher: efficient riding cannot be done by formula; sometimes, 
depending on the horse's reactions, it requires a constant change of 
combinations of leg and hand signals. Many combinations of leg and 
hand efforts can be produced out of the three fundamental leg actions 
and the five hand actions. 

Describe the natural reactions of the horse to these fundamental signals 
at a stand-still and while in motion. 



INTERMEDIATE AND ADVANCED 343 

Practice Practice the basic leg and hand signals to develop a correct 
technique of the use of the aids. 

General Remarks One hour is just about enough to cover the theory of 
this lesson. At least one more hour with the instructor is necessary to 
practice these signals and some combinations of them. After this the 
pupil may practice by himself. It is, of course, obvious that not until 
the pupil has gone through the whole course will he really know this 
lesson. In a way, the entire study of control is a development of this 
lesson. 

LESSON #5 

Subject The mechanics of the gaits. An efficient, soft control of the horse 
is possible only if the rider knows how the horse's body works in differ- 
ent movements. The efforts of the rider's legs and hands depend on the 
efforts of the horse. 

Theory The following points should be discussed and demonstrated by 
the teacher: 

1) The mechanics of the walk, trot, canter and of the gallop; what are 
the good and bad points of these gaits. Also departures, transitions 
and terminations of gaits. The efforts of the hindquarters, forehand, 
back and neck and head should be considered in the description of 
each of the above movements. This knowledge must be presented in 
a simple, practical way. 

2) The horse's balance (at different gaits). 

3) What the rider can do with his legs and hands to better or to spoil 
any of the above movements. 

Practice The pupil does not ride during this lesson. All the riding is 
done by the teacher, or by an advanced pupil, on a well-schooled horse 
and aims to illustrate the above points. However, this lesson must be 
followed by the pupil's practicing transitions from one gait to another 
(including halting). 

General Remarks This lesson is nothing but a lecture illustrated by 
riding. One hour is just about enough to cover the subject superficially; 
pupils must follow it up by reading and observing horses' movements. 

LESSON #6 
Subject Canter departure on a specific lead. Maintaining the canter is 

a part of this lesson. 
Theory The following points should be discussed and demonstrated by 

the teacher; 

1) What is the attitude of the horse's body which is conducive to the 
canter departure on a certain lead. (An elaboration of a part of the 
preceding lesson). 

2) What are the aids for the canter departure on a certain lead. 

3) What are the aids for maintaining an even, soft canter. 
Practice First teach canter departure disregarding the lead but with neck 

and head extended and straight. This should be done along the walls of 



344 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

the ring. After this has been learned ask the inside lead; later require 
either of the leads while the pupil rides through the center of the arena. 
General Remarks As soon as the pupil has learned this lesson (and long 
before he has reached perfection), begin to teach him to canter on soft 
contact with following arms: this is the continuation of Lesson #2. 

LESSON #7 

Subject Conformation and mentality of the horse as most influential 
factors in shaping the character of the horse's performance. 

Theory This lesson, building up the foundation for future efficient con- 
trol, is a direct continuation of Lesson #5. 

It points out how the conformation and the mentality of the horse 
affect the mechanics of the gaits, their departures, transitions and 
terminations. The following points should be discussed: 

1) Which qualities of the conformation of the hindquarters, forehand, 
back, neck, etc. the horse should possess to be a "good mover" and 
which ones result in poor gaits. 

2) The different characters of horses and how different mental charac- 
teristics affect horses' performances. 

3) A rider must realize that no matter how well he rides and how 
much time he has spent in schooling his horse, the results of his 
work are either enhanced or limited by his horse's conformation 
and character. One should learn to expect from a horse just as much 
as his nature is able to give. 

Practice The most efficient way to conduct this lesson is to have several 
pupils riding horses of varied conformation and character. Then, after 
a discussion of a certain point, the pupils may ride, one by one, demon- 
strating the difference in action and general behavior due to the dif- 
ference in conformation or character. One of the horses used for this 
lesson should be a really "good mover" so that the action of other 
horses can be compared to his. 

General Remarks One hour might be ample to give your pupils enough 
knowledge for the moment, but the study of this subject continues 
throughout the course. 

LESSON #8 

Subject "Impulse forward" and "coming back." This is the beginning of 
actual control. All the previous lessons formed an introduction. 

Theory The following points should be discussed and demonstrated by 
the teacher: 

1) The energy (of the horse), combined with softness and obedience, 
in starting gaits or increasing speed (impulse forward). 

2) The change of balance (of the horse), combined with softness and 
obedience when slowing down or halting (coming back). 

3) The use of legs and hands when starting a gait or increasing its 
speed (at all gaits). 



INTERMEDIATE AND ADVANCED 345 

4) The use of legs and hands when slowing down or halting (at all 
gaits). 

5) "Give and take" with the hands and with the legs. The use of the 
voice, spurs or a whip as a help to the legs and hands. 

Practice It will take just half an hour to cover the theory of this lesson, 
because the previous ones have prepared the pupil for it; but the prac- 
tice will take considerable time. One hour with the instructor is ample 
in most cases; but many hours of homework will be necessary to develop 
in the pupil sufficient feelings to have active softness. The trot is the 
gait at which to practice this lesson at first, by decreasing and increasing 
the speed of it. 

General Remarks-7-This is a very important lesson, for it is the founda- 
tion for all other movements. In every movement either the impulse 
forward or the coming back, or an alternation of both, is present. 

LESSON #9 

Subject The three speeds of a trot. This lesson is a direct continuation 

of the previous one. 
Theory The following points should be discussed and demonstrated by 

the teacher: 

1) Why in cross-country riding the three speeds are called: slow, 
ordinary and fast; and not collected, ordinary and extended. 

2) Smooth, quick transitions from one speed to another are as im- 
portant a part of the performance as the quality of the gait itself. 

3) The changes in the attitude of the horse (balance) when slowing 
down and when increasing the speed (in the hindquarters, the back, 
the forehand, the neck and head). What the longitudinal flexibility 
of the horse is. 

4) The rider's use of legs and hands (don't forget "give and take") 
when slowing down and when increasing the speed. 

Practice The three standard speeds at a trot. Riders must always slow 
down to the ordinary trot when nearing a corner of the ring. It is 
adyisable (unless your ring is very large) to practice the slow and the 
ordinary trot along the wall of the arena and do the fast trot while 
changing directions diagonally across the ring. 

General Remarks This is a very good exercise for the development of 
soft, active hands and legs, providing that the teacher is not satisfied 
by mere changes of speeds and insists upon good changes. 
Half an hour is ample for this lesson; homework will perfect it. 

LESSON #10 

Subject Backing. This is a direct continuation of lesson #8 the "com- 
ing back" part of it. 

Theory -The following points should be discussed and demonstrated by 
the teacher: 



S46 GOMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

1) The mechanics of backing. 

2) The softness, evenness and straightness of backing (in two beats). 

3) "Give and take" every step. 

Practice Practice at first along a wall, after a halt from a walk. Later in 
the center of the ring, and still later after halts from a trot and from 
a canter, resuming the original gait after backing. 
At first back just four steps (using give and take) and halt the horse 
immobile for a few seconds before and after backing. Later make the 
halts before and after backing as short as possible, so that transitions 
from movement forward to backing and from backing to movement 
forward are very quick, remaining soft, even and straight. 

General Remarks When backing follows a very short halt and in its 
turn is followed by a quick resumption of the gait, then it is an ad- 
vanced exercise for both "impulse forward" and "coming back." 

LESSON #11 

Subject Turns with movement forward (circles, half-circles, etc.). 
Theory The following points should be discussed and demonstrated 
by the teacher: 

1) Of what the lateral flexibility and lateral agility of the horse consist. 

2) What the rider can do with his legs and hands to obtain and to 
maintain a free, even, relaxed, obedient way of going while making 
a turn. "Give and take" with legs and hands. 

Practice Practice making circles, half-circles and half-circles in reverse 
at all gaits; later do serpentine and zig-zag at a trot, still later serpentine 
and zig-zag at a canter (after the pupil knows the counter gallop, Lesson 
#13). 

General Remarks One hour is ample time to cover this subject; for the 
pupil has been prepared for it by a few simple rules given him while 
he was learning elementary control. Require only turns large enough 
to be easy for the horse and then ask for softness and precision of turns. 

LESSON #12 

Subject Half -turn on the forehand. 

Theory The following points should be discussed and demonstrated 

by the teacher: 

.1) The mechanics of the half-turn on the forehand. 

2) The aids. 

3) Why it is taught; the value of the exercise in developing cooperation 
between the rider's legs and hands; also its place in actual riding. 

Practice At first practice at the wall, .rotating the quarters away from it; 

later make the turn in the middle of the arena. 
General Remarks About half an hour is all that is necessary to give to 

your pupil sufficient knowledge of this movement (on a horse which 

knows this turn), so that he can practice by himself. 



INTERMEDIATE AND ADVANCED 347 

LESSON #13 

Subject Counter gallop. 

Theory The following points should be discussed and demonstrated by 
the teacher: 

1) What is a good counter gallop and what are the characteristics of a 
poor one. 

2) The importance of the counter gallop in actual riding, in schooling 
horses and in teaching pupils the cooperation of legs and hands. 

3) The aids for maintaining a counter gallop. 

Practice Begin by making your pupils hold the horse on a counter 
gallop while cantering around the ring. Later make very large circles 
and still later serpentines and zigzags holding the same lead. 

General Remarks The counter gallop should be somewhat slower than 
an ordinary canter. Only a well-balanced horse will keep it even and 
remain soft. 

LESSON #14 

Subject Half-turn on the haunches. 

Theory The following points should be discussed and demonstrated by 
the teacher: 

1) The mechanics of the half-turn on the haunches. The good and the 
bad points of the turn. 

2) The aids. 

3) The value of this turn in actual riding, in schooling horses and in 
developing in the pupil the use of the aids. 

Practice At first practice at the wall of the ring, rotating the forehand 
away from it. Later make the turn without the help of the wall. Teach 
the turn from a halt and from a walk. 

General Remarks It will probably take a full hour to give your pupils 
enough knowledge so that they can practice it by themselves. It is con- 
siderably more difficult than the turn on the forehand. 

LESSON #15 

Subject Change of leads at a canter with interruption of the gait. 
Theory The following points should be discussed and demonstrated by 
the teacher: 

1) Why, depending on the horse, an interruption should be either a 
trot or a walk or a halt (it doesn't matter which on a well-schooled 
horse). 

2) The aids. 

3) In many cases the mechanics of the canter (already studied) will have 
to be reviewed. 

Practice Begin by changing leads at the end of the change of direction 
(diagonally across the arena); later in the center of the ring. The change 
must take place while the horse is moving along a straight line. 



348 COMMONSENSE HORSEMANSHIP 

Gradually decrease the length of the interruption, and eventually insist 
upon it being a trot. 

General Remarks This is a difficult lesson, for the changes in combina- 
tions of aids succeed each other too rapidly for an average pupil at this 
stage of learning. One hour is enough to give your pupils an idea of 
what to do, but they will have to be corrected during at least two more 
hours before they are ready to practice by themselves. 

LESSON #16 

Subject Short programs consisting of all movements learned so far. 
Smooth, quick transitions must be required. 

Practice About ten letters should be painted on the walls of the ring 
and the pupil must start or end every movement upon reaching a 
specified letter (precision). Programs should be about five minutes long, 
and executed individually. The pattern for such programs is the train- 
ing test of the Three-Day-Event of the Olympic Games. 

General Remarks The greatest benefit can be derived from this lesson if 
the class consists of three or four pupils, and while one performs the 
others judge. The four horses and their four riders will exhibit quite 
a variety of good and bad points. It is very important to develop an 
"eye" in your pupils. The ability to see faults in others helps one to see 
one's own. 

Stress the point that a well-executed but isolated movement has not 
much value, and that smooth, precise transitions are as important as 
the movements themselves. 

LESSON #17 

Subject The three speeds of the gallop. 

Theory The following points should be discussed and demonstrated by 
the teacher: 

1) Why in cross-country riding the three speeds are called slow, ordi- 
nary and fast f and not collected, ordinary and extended (this, con- 
cerning the trot, has been already discussed during lesson #9). 

2) The importance of smooth, precise transitions, from one speed to 
another. 

3) The changes in the attitude of the horse when slowing down and 
when increasing the speed of the gallop; discuss the quarters, the 
back, the neck and head (these points, concerning the trot have been 
already studied in lesson #9). 

Don't forget to discuss the change in the strength of the gestures 
of the horse's neck and head, as well as the changes in the amplitude 
of the oscillation of the horse's body with the change of speeds. As 
you know, these elements are not present at a trot. 

4) The aids. 

Practice Only the slow and ordinary gallops are possible in a ring, and 



INTERMEDIATE AND ADVANCED 349 

the latter only providing that the arena is really large; for the fast 
gallop you must take your pupils to a field. 

General Remarks This lesson is a good exercise for the development of 
soft, active hands and legs, providing that the teacher is not satisfied 
with merely obtaining changes of speeds but insists upon quality in 
them. It is a more difficult lesson than changes of speed at a trot and 
require really well-schooled, obedient horses. 

LESSON #18 

Subject Two tracks at a walk and at a trot. 

Theory The following points should be discussed and demonstrated by 
the teacher: 

1) The characteristics of a good oblique movement. 

2) The difference between "Two tracks" and "Shoulder-in/' 

3) The aids. 

Practice Begin this exercise in the following manner: while your pupil 
rides at a walk straight along the middle line of the ring ask him to 
move his horse very slightly to the side while still progressing forward 
and while keeping the horse almost perpendicular to the short wall of 
the ring toward which his horse moves. Impress upon the pupil that the 
side-movement should 'be very slight while the progress forward should 
be very free; always emphasize the importance of forward movement. 
By no means teach the oblique movement along the wall; such a prac- 
tice will give your pupils a wrong feeling of a horse moving with short 
strides. 

Once the Two tracks at a walk is decently executed, begin the same at 
a slow, sitting trot. 

General Remarks Practice in making the turns on the forehand and on 
the haunches has prepared your pupils for Two tracks. 

LESSON #19 

Subject The mechanics of the horse's jump determine the principles of 
control in jumping. 

Theory This is a purely theoretical lesson and it consists of a thorough 
study of the horse's efforts during the approach, take-off, flight and 
landing, and during the first couple of strides after landing. 
The efforts of the horse's legs, back, neck and head should be discussed 
and pointed out by means of demonstration. The demonstration must 
make clear how the rider's bad control interferes with the natural efforts 
of the horse. Evidently, the aim of good riding is to interfere the 
least with the horse's natural way of jumping while sitting and con- 
trolling him. 

Follow t